It’s always incredibly fun talking to guy who’s just made his first big league roster. Both Dellin Betances and Vidal Nuno have been in the big leagues before, but they’d never made the cut out of spring training until today. Pretty awesome moment for both of them. And Dean Anna had never so much as been invited to big league camp, much less made the team.
While Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte left the park with a bunch of uncertainty tonight, these three left as big leaguers.
Betances: “It’s an honor. I grew up in this organization. I grew up watching them, and I got drafted by them. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs, but this is definitely probably the most memorable moment for me. Making the team out of camp is a big deal for anybody. For me to get called into the office and they tell me that, I’m still in shock. … The first time I got called up, I was kind of excited but I feel like it was more of a gift. September call-up, I feel like that year, I didn’t finish as strong as I wanted to, so I feel like it was a gift. But I feel like this year, I came in and I did what I had to do, and I feel like I earned my spot.”
Nuno: “It’s really, really special, just knowing that all the hard work I put in in the offseason has just paid off a little bit, but there’s a long season ahead. Just want to take it day by day now, so just like I did in spring training. … It was always a big rush. It was unbelievable how everything just came true a little bit. Now I gotta stick here and just produce. I can sleep a little bit better now, just knowing that I’m heading to Houston and then New York. It’s just a long journey, so I’m just really happy, really thrilled about how I got the news and now it’s back to work.”
Anna: “I’m not shocked. I kind of feel a little numb more than anything right now. I think maybe Opening Day, that’s when I’ll start to feel what I feel. Everyone else is really excited for me, but it really just feels like another day right now. It’s kind of weird, really, the feeling. It doesn’t really feel like much, like I thought it would be. I think Opening Day is going to be a little different story.”
· One reason this final infield decision carries extra weight is that Brendan Ryan won’t be ready for a while. This isn’t just a week-long roster spot. The Yankees are able to backdate Ryan’s inevitable disable list stint to seven days before the season starts, meaning he could come off the DL after just eight days. But he won’t be ready by then. Brian Cashman made it clear today that Ryan won’t be available right away. “I know he’s feeling much better, but I’m not going to assume that he’ll be back in two weeks,” Cashman said. “… He hasn’t done anything, and he only had 10 plate appearances before he got hurt. That doesn’t count, because it was so long ago, so. He’s going to have to start from scratch.”
· Anna has played a lot of shortstop this spring, and he could fit as the team’s Derek Jeter alternative early in the season. “With Brendan Ryan out, (Anna) played a very good shortstop for us,” Joe Girardi said. “He’s a left-handed bat. If you give Jeet a day off, it would probably be against a right-hander, so he fits the mold.”
· The Yankees weren’t planning to announce the Anna decision, but Girardi confirmed it when told that the Padres second baseman had already tweeted out a congratulations. “I hate tweets,” Girardi said.
· Reliever Tommy Kahnle has made the Rockies Opening Day roster. He was taken from the Yankees in the Rule 5 draft. Kind of similar to Danny Burawa, another hard-throwing right-hander who made it through the Rule 5 and pitched well in Yankees camp this spring. Kahnle will have to stay on the Rockies big league roster or disabled list all year if he’s going to stay with that organization.
· The decision to carry Nuno instead of Cesar Cabral came down to versatility. Playing 13 days in a row to start the season, the Yankees valued the idea of three relievers who can pitch multiple innings (Nuno, Phelps, Warren). Girardi said he sees Nuno as a left-on-left option, but also as a long relief option. “(Taking Cabral) was something that was definitely discussed,” Girardi said. “But right now, and the way it’s constructed with 13 games to go right out of the chute in a row, we just felt the distance and flexibility (were) more important.”
· Nuno obviously will not be stretched out in Triple-A, so the Yankees signed Alfredo Aceves to a minor league deal and will put him in their Triple-A rotation likely alongside Shane Greene, Chase Whitley, Bruce Billings and Brian Gordon. Cashman confirmed that the signing came just a few hours before tonight’s game.
· The plan is for Jacoby Ellsbury to play in tomorrow’s major-league game. He would have played in tonight’s game, but the Yankees were worried the game might be rained out, so they had him play at the minor league complex this morning. “Weather permitting he’ll play here tomorrow,” Girardi said. “I feel pretty good about him.”
· Girardi would not say anything about his intended batting order for the regular season. It certainly seems that Derek Jeter is going to back second, Mark Teixeira cleanup and Brett Gardner near the bottom of the order, but Girardi said he would not yet announce his lineup plans.
· Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka combined to pitch a shutout in tonight’s 3-0 win against the Marlins. Kuroda scattered three hits through three innings. Tanaka struck out 10 and walked none through six dominant innings. “They both did what you want to see in their last outing,” Girardi said.
· Tanaka was given the choice of pitching tonight or tomorrow. He picked today. He was stretched out through six innings because he won’t pitch again for a week.
· Box score notes: For a while it seemed the Yankees might be no-hit by the Marlins for a second time this spring, but Kelly Johnson finally doubled to start the eighth inning. Brian Roberts and Solarte eventually had singles as well. … Brett Gardner reached on an error and scored a run before the Yankees had a hit. He stole two bases. … Nunez made his third error of the spring. Solarte was caught stealing. Mark Teixeira struck out twice but walked once. Derek Jeter also walked.
· Just because I’m not sure what else to do with it, we’ll give the final word to Girardi talking about the changes to the joint drug program: “I’m all for cleaning up the game, so whatever they feel it takes, I’m all for it,” Girardi said. “I think you want to feel that everyone is on a level playing field. That’s important to me. It’s important to me as a guy who played, as a guy who manages, and as a father – that people don’t feel that they have to do something to get an edge. The edge comes through hard work solely. Whatever they do to try to keep people from taking PEDs, I’m all for it.”
Associated Press photos