Chris Stewart is catching a day game after a night game, and Joe Girardi made it clear that Stewart will likely catch again tomorrow. Austin Romine has started just once since coming up from Triple-A, and he won’t start again until the Yankees travel to Colorado next week.
“I could change my mind, but it’s three days (in a row),” Girardi said. “It’s still early in the year. We had a day off Thursday and we have a day off Monday.”
Stewart’s potential fatigue isn’t the most surprising part of Stewart’s playing time. The surprising part is that the Yankees have actively stayed away from Romine, a legitimate prospect with a solid defensive reputation and some offensive upside. Romine didn’t get much playing time this spring — which made sense considering he was coming off a year almost entirely lost to injury. But he’s healthy now.
Girardi said the hesitation to use Romine has to do with familiarity, and he’s been saying essentially the same thing since Romine came up to replace Francisco Cervelli. The Yankees want Romine to be familiar with the pitching staff before giving him significant playing time. It probably didn’t help — though the Yankees haven’t said this — that Romine’s first start was a real struggle for Andy Pettitte.
“Stewy’s always been a guy that can handle a pitching staff,” Girardi said. “That’s what we’ve asked our catchers to do is handle our pitching staff well, and he’s familiar with these guys. I want Austin to get familiar with them so we can get him in the mix more, and that takes a little bit of time. But Stew’s always been a very good defensive catcher.”
• One interesting pregame development: As I type this, Jayson Nix is on the field going through drills at first base. According to baseball reference, Nix has never played first base in the big leagues — he’s played just about every other position — but the Yankees would like a right-handed option at first, especially considering Lyle Overbay’s struggles against left-handers.
• Sounds like all or most of the injured Yankees who are currently in New York — including Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Ivan Nova and Kevin Youkilis — will head to Tampa tomorrow. Obviously not all of them will be able to play right away, but there’s little sense them staying in New York while the team is on the road. Could be some impressive extended spring training lineups in the next few weeks.
• Girardi said he’s still planning to keep Dave Robertson out of the mix until Tuesday. “I think he’s better,” Girardi said.
• Chris Nelson is making his first appearance since coming to the Yankees earlier this week. “Want to get him in the mix,” Girardi said. “That’s why we went and got him. He’ll get a chance. He’s seen Bartolo before. I think he’s had a couple of at-bats against him, so we’ll get him in the mix.”
• Phil Hughes still doesn’t have a win this season. “I just think his stuff in each start has gotten a little bit better,” Girardi said. “The location of his fastball (and) his offspeed to me has gotten better. He’s pitched well enough to win his last couple of games, (but) we haven’t scored a lot of runs.”
• The Yankees are facing former teammate Bartolo Colon. “He has incredible command and movement on his fastball,” Girardi said. “He used to be more of a power pitcher. I would still consider him a power pitcher because you’re going to see so many fastballs. You’re just not going to see the 98s and 99s that you used to see. He’s always been able to induce ground balls. He’s always been able to keep his pitch count down because he’s so aggressive. He holds runners. He fields his position well. He does a lot of things right.”
Associated Press photos