Two things to consider as Michael Pineda makes his second spring training appearance.
1. Asked for the most important factor in determining the fifth starter, Joe Girardi said: “What makes our team the best. How you arrange the 12 guys to make our team the best, would be the deciding factor.”
That would seem to work in Pineda’s favor. David Phelps and Adam Warren have bullpen experience, and the Yankees know they can trust them in a relief role. Pineda’s never been a reliever. But…
2. Asked whether the Yankees will be able to get 200 innings out of Pineda, Girardi said flatly, “No you will not.” He wouldn’t go into detail, but Girardi made it clear that Pineda will be limited this season. He hasn’t pitched a full season since 2011, and even then he pitched just 171 innings.
So, basically, the Yankees want to do what’s best for the team as a whole, and they have to take into consideration the fact that one of their rotation candidates won’t be cleared for a normal 30-start season. Girardi said that limitation won’t rule out Pineda from the competition, it’s just that it might throw a wrinkle into the plan at some point.
“Hypothetically, let’s just say he was a starter at some point, you’d have to adjust because you’re not going to get 200 innings out of him,” Girardi said. “I don’t know (how that would work). I know they’ve talked about it. I’m sure if it becomes a factor and he’s part of our club, we’re going to have to see how it works.”
Could mean an innings limit in early starts. Could mean keeping him limited or moving him to the bullpen late in the season. Girardi didn’t even rule out the idea of sending Pineda to the minors for carefully managed innings early in the season (though that doesn’t seem especially likely if Pineda pitches well enough to make the big league team).
The Yankees are usually hesitant to discuss details in a situation like this, and that’s certainly what it felt like this morning. An innings limit for Pineda seems inevitable, it’s just a matter of figuring how and when the Yankees are going to implement it. As long as Pineda’s just a fifth starter candidate — and not the official fifth starter — it’s unlikely Girardi’s going to discuss a plan that doesn’t have to be implemented just yet.
“We’ll cross that when we have to,” Girardi said. “I’m sure we’ll talk about every possibility, and what makes the most sense for us. And we’ll go from there.”
· One change to the Panama travel roster. Brian McCann is now staying in Florida so that he can catch Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday and Hiroki Kuroda on Monday. Francisco Cervelli will make the trip instead. My friend Dan Barbarisi and I were talking about the decision this morning and both had come to the same bit of speculation: Earlier this spring, it seemed the Yankees were establishing Cervelli as a personal catcher for Tanaka. Wonder if Cervelli’s strong spring has boosted his trade value, and the Yankees want to get McCann familiar with Tanaka just in case they find a good Cervelli deal that nets either a bullpen or infield upgrade. That’s just guesswork, but it would make at least some sense. It’s not like the Yankees were stunned to discover Tanaka and Kuroda were pitching Sunday and Monday. The travel squad was set, and they decided to change it for some reason.
· Speaking of Tanaka, he threw a bullpen this morning and said he feels like he’s adjusting to the Major League rotation schedule pretty well. He wasn’t happy with his fastball during this week’s simulated game, so that’s what he focused on in the bullpen.
· Upcoming spring rotation:
Tomorrow: David Phelps
Saturday: Vidal Nuno (Florida), Adam Warren (Panama)
Sunday: Masahiro Tanaka (Florida), CC Sabathia (Panama)
Monday: Hiroki Kuroda
Tuesday: Michael Pineda
Wednesday: Ivan Nova
Thursday: David Phelps
Friday: CC Sabathia
· Although it’s not officially listed, it seems likely Tanaka’s next start after Sunday will come next Saturday. He’ll be on an extra day of rest for that one. He’s been pitching every five days up to this point. Girardi made it clear this morning that he expects to keep Tanaka on an every-five-days scheduled during the season with no overwhelming effort to give him extra rest, just might ease into that routine this spring.
· The Yankees will have a designated hitter for both games in Panama. Girardi said he plans to have Derek Jeter play shortstop for one of the games and DH for the other. It’s likely Alfonso Soriano will play the outfield for each game.
· A bunch of minor league guys are up for the day. Most are going over to Clearwater to play off the bench there (you’ll see their names below).
· Girardi is staying in Tampa for today’s home game against the Orioles. Tony Pena is going to Clearwater to manage the split-squad game against the Phillies.
· Batting practice groups in Tampa (hitting groups for Clearwater weren’t posted)
Group 1: Carlos Beltran, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano, Brian McCann
Group 2: Zoilo Almonte, Dean Anna, Russ Canzler, Brett Gardner, Eduardo Nunez
Group 3: Adonis Garcia, Jose Pirela, Antoan Richardson, Zelous Wheeler, John Ryan Murphy
Group 4: Jake Cave, Corban Joseph, Casey Stevensen, Tyson Blaser, Jose Gil, Gary Sanchez
· HOME GAME VS. ORIOLES
Second string: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Jose Pirela, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Jake Cave, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Adonis Garcia, DH Gary Sanchez
Scheduled relievers: Dave Robertson, Matt Thornton, Bruce Billings, Cesar Cabral, Chris Leroux (with Matt Daley, Jim Miller and Brian Gordon available if necessary)
· ROAD GAME VS. PHILLIES
Second string: C Pete O’Brien, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Carmen Angelini, 3B Rob Segedin, LF Ben Gamel, CF Mason Williams, RF Taylor Dugas
Scheduled relievers: Shane Green, Bryan Mitchell, Mark Montgomery, Preston Claiborne (with Danny Burawa, Fred Lewis, Tyler Webb and Pat Venditte available if necessary)
Associated Press photos