Yesterday Joe Girardi spoke in glowing terms about Freddy Garcia, and today he left very open the possibility of optioning either Ivan Nova or Michael Pineda to Triple-A to start the season.
“There’s no gaurantee that the sixth starter goes to the bullpen,” Girardi said.
Quite often a manager or coach or general manager will leave public breadcumbs to make their intentions clear, but the Yankees are sending signals that they truly don’t know which five starters will make their Opening Day rotation. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are in, and Phil Hughes has been the best starter in camp, but the choice still seems fairly wide open even this late into camp. My guess is still the same — that ultimately Garcia gets crowded out — but the team is leaving every possibility open, and they’re preparing for every possibility.
Nova pitched in a minor league game today so that he could avoid facing the Orioles, who he could face in his first regular-season start if he makes the team, but Girardi said not to read too much into that. The Yankees had Nova pitch in the minor leagues because it’s possible he’ll face the Orioles in the second series of the season, not because he will face the Orioles in the second series of the season.
D.J. Mitchell is no longer starting tonight’s game because the Yankees want him to pitch in relief tonight, then pitch in relief again on Saturday. They want to see how he handles that sort of turnaround — something a reliever might do, but a starter would never do — because they want to prepare him for the possibility of being a long man when the season starts. Girardi said it’s still possibel any one of Mitchell, David Phelps and Adam Warren could make the team in a relief role.
“At some point, I’m going to have to disappoint someone,” Girardi said.
The Yankees are creating the impression that they truly don’t know who that’s going to be, and they seem to be preparing themselves for any and all possibilities.
• Nick Swisher was a late arrival at the Yankees minor league complex this afternoon. Swisher joined his teammates for the Boys & Girls Club luncheon, then he went to the complex afterward. Girardi had no word on how he did or how many at-bats he had.
• Obviously Curtis Granderson is in the lineup, which is good news for his sore right elbow.
• Girardi said Nova got up to 95 pitches. I left after four innings — Girardi left after about three — but Girardi said reports on Nova were good. Getting stretched out was a big thing today, and Nova certainly did that. He’d throw just 72 pitches through six innings.
• Andy Pettitte will pitch another simulated game in the next few days. Girardi said it’s still possible Pettitte will pitch in that final spring training game against the Mets. “If it is (possible), we’ll try to use him,” Girardi said.
• Rafael Soriano pitched in today’s Double-A game mostly because there are a lot of pitchers who the Yankees want to see in the big league game. The fact it’s a division opponent in the big league game was also a factor.
• Robinson Cano had a full day off today.
• If you missed it earlier, the Yankees have signed former Pirates 1B/OF Steve Pearce to a minor league deal. It looks like he’ll be the regular first baseman in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The sense I got based on a few conversations at the minor league complex is that the Yankees would like to move Jorge Vazquez to a team that will give him a better opportunity (could be overseas or another MLB organization). If he is traded, I’m not sure the return would be overly exciting despite last year’s power numbers.
• Heard from a Yankees source today that the team might try to immediately pass Craig Tatum back through waivers in hopes that he’ll clear, letting the Yankees send him to Triple-A for minor league depth. The Yankees claimed Tatum yesterday. He’s out of options, but the fact he fell all the way to the Yankees suggests no other team is interested in claiming him.
• A few injury updates from the minor league complex: Corban Joseph has been shutdown with a shoulder injury. The team is still waiting for word from the team doctor to determine just how much time he’ll miss. … Kyle Higashioka is expected to miss about a month because of a recurring shoulder injury. … Jeremy Bleich, who’s missed more time than expected because of a shoulder injury, is throwing bullpens and getting close facing hitters.
• Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia threw sides today. Hiroki Kuroda will throw one tomorrow.
• Todays available pitchers: Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell, Clay Rapada, Cesar Cabral, Mike OConnor, Kramer Sneed, Kelvin Perez
• Todays second string: C Gustavo Molina, 1B Eric Chavez, 2B Bill Hall, SS Jayson Nix, 3B Doug Bernier, LF Dewayne Wise, CF Justin Maxwell, RF Chris Dickerson
• For those of you who are interested, here’s today’s Triple-A lineup that played behind Nova (yes, with two DHs, it’s a different world down there):
Austin Krum LF
Ramiro Pena 2B
Colin Curtis RF
Steve Pearce 1B
Brandon Laird 3B
Cole Garner DH
Dan Brewer DH
Ray Kruml CF
Kevin Russo SS
Russell Martin C
Associated Press photos