Michael Pineda makes his next spring start tomorrow, after which the Yankees are expected to have their most significant fifth-starter discussion to date. Joe Girardi said there’s a good chance he could announce his final decision early next week.
“We’ll probably talk about it Sunday after the game,” Girardi said. “Maybe Tuesday we’ll announce it, would be my guess.”
The general expectation seems to be that Pineda will win the job, but David Phelps has pitched very well this spring. Frankly, so have Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren.
“Rotations can get on a roll, and our rotation has been on a roll,” Girardi said. “And it’s not just five people. It’s like eight people. It’s been really fun to watch, and my guess is they’re competing against each other. I think today’s a heavy workload for Tanaka and Kuroda, so you want to see how they do when the pitch count gets really high. It’s been pretty good. It’s been fun to watch.”
Masahiro Tanaka was chosen for today’s major-league game in Fort Myers. It’s a long bus ride, but Tanaka told the Yankees he’d rather face big league hitters than stay behind to pitch at the complex. This late in the spring, with the Twins playing a home game, there’s a good chance Tanaka will see a lineup full of regulars. He’ll be stretched out to 90 pitches, so this should be his greatest test of the spring.
“I think hitters catch up a little bit,” Girardi said. “They’ve seen breaking balls for a couple of weeks, and they’re getting to see (starters) two and three times in the course of a game, so I think you get a better idea.”
· Girardi might announce his rotation on Tuesday, but announcing the final bullpen spots might take another week. “I would think probably we’ll still be evaluating at the end there, but it’s got to be decided before Saturday because we leave Saturday,” he said.
· Jacoby Ellsbury is scheduled to do another workout today. Basically the same stuff he did yesterday — hitting, fielding, running — just more intense. “Just increase what he did from yesterday,” Girardi said. “Probably run a little harder.”
· Girardi said he’s still planning to play Ellsbury no earlier than Tuesday. Girardi said yesterday that he believes there’s time to get Ellsbury into four more games before breaking camp. One of those will probably be a minor league game so that he can get a bunch of at-bats.
· Hiroki Kuroda is pitching at the minor league complex this afternoon. He’ll be stretched out just like Tanaka, probably 90 pitches or so. The Yankees are also sending a bunch of relievers to the minor league complex today, but I don’t have that list. Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy are going down to catch all of those guys. One of them will catch Kuroda, the other will handle the relievers.
· Although Girardi won’t commit entirely, it seems clear that Francisco Cervelli has won the backup catcher job. He’s making today’s trip to catch Tanaka, and on Monday he’ll go to the minor league complex to catch Nova. “We’re continuing to evaluate,” Girardi said. “He’s a had a great spring. He has the most experience of any of these guys, so he looks really really good.”
· Kelly Johnson is getting his second start at first base. Although Girardi said he might use Johnson at second base during the season, it’s likely Johnson will never play there this spring. Girardi said Johnson has spent so much time at second base, and is so used to playing multiple positions, that he feels no need to get some second base time during spring training. “I’m not worried about him,” Girardi said. “He knows how to play there. During the season (he might play there), but I won’t worry about it in spring training.”
· After the Yankees ran out of innings and couldn’t get David Herndon into last night’s game, Herndon was given the choice of either pitching in a minor league game or making today’s trip to Fort Myers. Apparently the guy’s quite the trooper, because he’s taking the bus ride.
· Adonis Garcia is getting another turn at third base. He’s played mostly outfield this spring — and mostly outfield in pro ball — but he played a lot of infield this winter.
· Today’s second string: C Jose Gil, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Yangervis Solarte, SS Ali Castillo, 3B Adonis Garcia (there are no backup outfielders listed, though Mason Williams and Ramon Flores are up from minor league camp to make the trip).
· Today’s scheduled relievers: Danny Burawa, Fred Lewis, Shane Greene, Yoshinori Tateyama, David Herndon (with Mark Montgomery, Aaron Dott, Jeremy Bleich and Pat Venditte up from minor league camp just in case the Yankees need innings).
· Batting practice groups in Tampa:
Group 1: Carlos Beltran, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki
Group 2: Russ Canzler, Jacoby Ellsbury, John Ryan Murphy, Austin Romine, Mark Teixeira
Associated Press photos