Joe Girardi made his rotation official today, but there was no news there. The biggest on-going storyline of the spring settled itself the moment Michael Pineda complained about a sore shoulder. A better announcement would have been the Opening Day bullpen, but Girardi wasn’t ready to announce that just yet.
“Those two spots are kind of what we need to make up,” Girardi said. “We’ll let that play out over the next couple of days.”
The two spots are a middle reliever and a long reliever. It seems that Clay Rapada is a heavy favorite for the first spot. He’s a left-on-left specialist who’s had significant success in that role, and he’s pitched well this spring. He might not have made the team if Cesar Cabral had been healthy, but as it is, it seems like he’s in. Joe Girardi said George Kontos could also factor into that decision if the Yankees choose not to carry a second lefty.
The second spot is 100 percent between Adam Warren, D.J. Mitchell and David Phelps. Girardi said Kontos isn’t stretched out enough to be a true long man, so the choice comes down to those three minor league starters.
“It’s not something that really any of them has every done,” Girardi said. “But one of the theories about breaking in young pitchers is starting them off in the bullpen, kind of like what we did with (Hector) Noesi last year. The same sort of thing. One of those guys is probably going to get an opportunity to do that. It helps that they’ve been starters in their career and they can give you distance.”
• For whatever reason, Girardi today said it is possible that Andy Pettitte could pitch in Wednesday’s spring finale. He seemed completely against that over the weekend, but now he says it’s a possibility. If Pettitte doesn’t pitch in Wednesday’s big league game, Girardi said, he’ll probably pitch in a minor league game on Thursday. Wherever it happens, Pettitte’s about to pitch in a game.
• With only the bullpen spots up for grabs, it’s hard to know what’s about to happen to Justin Maxwell. “Your guess is as good as mine,” he said. Maxwell has played very well this spring, but the Yankees don’t have a roster spot for him and he’s out of options. “He’s had a good spring, no doubt about it,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen over the next few days, but he’s had a very good spring. Andruw (Jones) has been the guy we kind of brought in for the left handers. Maxy, we’ll continue to evaluate and see if something happens.”
• Brett Gardner, Nick Swisher, Ivan Nova and Andruw Jones are the big leaguers making tomorrow’s trip to Port St. Lucie. The Yankees bus to Port St. Lucie doesn’t leave Miami until tomorrow morning, so the team will get up early and drive about two hours before playing the Mets.
• Girardi said he expects Hiroki Kuroda to pitch three innings tonight. Phil Hughes will pitch four. Dave Robertson is also scheduled, and the Yankees would like to have Boone Logan and Rafael Soriano each face a batter or two if they can.
• Today’s available pitchers: Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, Dave Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, George Kontos, Brandon Pinder, Mark Montgomery, Juan Cedeno and Pat Venditte. Those are the pitchers listed as available, but I can’t imagine they actually plan to put Kontos or Cedeno in the game after they pitched last night.
• Today’s second string: C Gustavo Molina, 1B Doug Bernier, 2B Bill Hall, SS Ramiro Pena, 3B Eduardo Nunez, LF Justin Maxwell, CF Abe Almonte, RF Chris Dickerson, DH Andruw Jones.
Associated Press photos