The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Archive for the ‘Misc’

A-Rod getting time at first, but position still hinges on Teixeira03.27.15

Alex Rodriguez, Mark TeixeiraAlex Rodriguez is going to play first base on Sunday, and that’s attention-grabbing for obvious reasons. For one thing, it’s Rodriguez, and anything he does seems to generate attention. For another thing, it’s a veteran player learning a new position, and would spark at least some curiosity for even a role player. It’s also noteworthy because the Yankees have been talking about the possibility for months now.

But if you want to really know what this means for the Yankees, consider the fact we’re entering the final week of spring training, and Rodriguez is just now getting a few innings at the position. When camp opened, it seemed to be a bit of a priority that he get some time at first. Now it’s clearly a secondary concern at best.

“You feel pretty good that you got two healthy first basemen,” Girardi said. “So Alex would be kind of the third guy.”

Mark Teixeira is the starter, and Garrett Jones is the go-to backup. Rodriguez is learning first base strictly to fill the void should one of those two get hurt. Essentially, the Yankees would rather play him at first than either Chase Headley or Brian McCann, each of whom had to play the position a few times last season.”

“I’m thinking of first base to give Joe as many options as he could possibly have,” Rodriguez said. “I know he likes to give guys rest. I know he likes matchups. I just want to be an asset to Joe all year. And (Brian Cashman).”

Rodriguez said one of the clubhouse guys has been using his new first baseman’s mitt to play catch, helping get it worn in. Rodriguez has been using his regular infield glove for all of his first base drills, but he said he’ll use the real first base glove when he’s playing the position.

“He’s done some extra work (at first),” Girardi said. “He’ll do some tomorrow, again. We did cut off some relays with the shift the other day, and we had him at first doing it. We’ll go over the bunt defenses again before we leave. Those are the things that are going to be a little tricky. That’s the bottom line if he goes over there. Obviously, I’d probably put Garrett Jones there first, but if something were to happen to one of them, just trying to prepare ourselves.”

It comes down to this: The Yankees had no backup first baseman last season. They’re trying to vaguely have two of them this year. But if either Jones or Rodriguez is seeing a ton of time at first base this season, it won’t be a good thing. Success or failure at first base still largely hinges on Teixeira, who’s so far looked fairly strong and healthy throughout spring training. He had a hit and an RBI today, bringing his spring slash line to .279/.326/.419.

“Discipline, good at bats, letting it go when he swings,” Girardi said. “Everything that we kind of expect from Tex. It’s like we have Tex back, which is great. I feel that we’re going to get a real productive guy.”

Associated Press photo

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Scott Baker getting a start tomorrow; CC pitching in the minors03.27.15

Scott Baker

Scott Baker was scheduled to pitch multiple innings of long relief this afternoon, but the game was called in the sixth, and so the Yankees will instead have Baker start tomorrow’s game against Baltimore.

CC Sabathia will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow.

“We wanted (Baker) to go long,” Girardi said. “I called him in before that (last) inning and I said, ‘We’re going to wait, because we don’t want you to go just an inning or a half an inning and all of a sudden it starts pouring and they call the game.’ So he’ll start tomorrow.”

The original plan was to have Bryan Mitchell start tomorrow’s big league game. The Yankees don’t want Sabathia to do it because they’re facing the Orioles, and the Yankees would prefer to keep Sabathia out of a game against a division rival. Prioritizing Baker could be a sign that he’s still heavily in the mix for a long relief role.

After a rough spring debut, Baker pitched well against the Mets on Sunday (4.1 innings, one hit, no walks). It’s at least a little curious that the Yankees let Chase Whitley — another long relief candidate — pitch just one inning last time out but preferred to make sure Baker gets a multiple-inning appearance.

Would it make sense to carry Baker as a long man out of camp, while sending both Whitley and Mitchell to Triple-A to stay stretched out as rotation depth (making them potential candidates for spot starts whenever the Yankees want or need a sixth starter)? Opening a 40-man spot for Baker shouldn’t be tough, especially with Ivan Nova and possibly Chris Capuano being obvious 60-day disabled list candidates.

Associated Press photo

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Spring Game 26: Yankees at Phillies03.27.15

Michael Pineda

YANKEES (13-11-1)
Brett Gardner LF
Chase Headley 3B
Carlos Beltran RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Brian McCann C
Alex Rodriguez DH
Stephen Drew 2B
Chris Young CF
Brendan Ryan SS

RHP Michael Pineda (5-5, 1.89 in 2014)

PHILLIES (11-12-1)
Ben Revere LF
Freddy Galvis SS
Russ Canzler 3B
Ryan Howard 1B
Jeff Francoeur RF
Odubel Herrera CF
Cesar Hernandez 2B
Cameron Rupp C
Jonathan Papelbon P

RHP Jonathan Papelbon (39 saves, 2.04 ERA in 2014)

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., not on TV or radio

WEATHER: Could rain at basically any moment.

UMPIRES: HP Dan Iassogna, 1B Marty Foster, 2B Phil Cuzzi, 3B Vic Carapazza

C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Jonathan Galvez, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Cole Figueroa, LF Tyler Austin, CF Jake Cave, RF Aaron Judge

TODAY’S SCHEDULED RELIEVERS: Scott Baker, Jacob Lindgren, Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin, Nick Rumbelow

RELIEF FROM THE START: Because of pending rain, the Phillies are having Jonathan Papelbon pitch the first inning today. Aaron Nola is the scheduled starter and will presumably follow him.

UPDATE, 1:22 p.m.: Couple of relatively weak singles off Pineda in the first inning, but he gets out of it with a double play ball to second base.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m.: Rodriguez singled, Drew doubled and Young flied to right. The Yankees tried to score on the play, but Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate by Jeff Francoeur. It was a strong throw, but Rodriguez isn’t exactly a burner these days.

UPDATE, 2:21 p.m.: Second double of the day for Ryan. Takes second on a Gardner single, scores on a passed ball.

UPDATE, 2:22 p.m.: Four straight hits to start the fifth inning for the Yankees. They’re now up 2-0. Still no outs in the inning. Two on for Teixeira.

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Masahiro Tanaka starting Opening Day03.27.15

Joe Girardi just announced the order of the Yankees top four starters to start this season. Sabathia gets Game 3.

1. Masahiro Tanaka

2. Michael Pineda

3. CC Sabathia

4. Nathan Eovaldi

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Ryan paired with Drew up the middle03.27.15

Brett Gardner LF

Chase Headley 3B

Carlos Beltran RF

Mark Teixeira 1B

Brian McCann C

Alex Rodriguez DH 

Stephen Drew 2

Chris Young CF

Brendan Ryan SS

RHP Michael Pineda

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Gregorius making a strong first impression in Yankees camp03.26.15

Didi Gregorius

For a while, I found it hard to trust my own evaluation. These past five years, the shortstop I’ve seen the most has been a sure-handed but limited Hall of Famer. Derek Jeter is what he is in the history books, but especially late in his career, he was not a particularly rangy or dynamic fielder.

Through that lens, Didi Gregorius has looked incredible. He covers ground, he charges slow rollers, he makes every throw. Clearly, he’s been better than Jeter in the field, but what does that really mean?

It seems I’m not the only one impressed. Ken Rosenthal was in Yankees camp yesterday, and he wrote about the overwhelming enthusiasm Gregorius has generated. It’s a predictably good story full of glowing comments about the Yankees new young shortstop. Here’s the analysis Rosenthal got from Alex Rodriguez, using 6 and 7 as shorthand for 60 and 70 on the scouting scale:

Didi Gregorius“He has a rare combination of speed and explosiveness. But what you don’t see is an incredibly strong arm that is so accurate. That combination is lethal,” Rodriguez said.

“What you see in a lot of young players are 6 or 7 arms, but then their accuracy is 3 or 4. Which is normal, par for the course. As they get older, they go from a 7-1/2 arm to about a 5-1/2 or 6-1/2 and their accuracy goes to about 6. But when you have that combination at 25 years old of crazy range, 7-plus arm, 7-plus accuracy … even Ozzie [Smith], he had 7 accuracy but he didn’t have 7 arm strength.

“[Gregorius] has made plays from the hole, from his back foot, throwing the ball 90 mph across the diamond from his back foot. You don’t see that. It also makes it a lot easier for your third baseman to play third base.”

Thing is, the Yankees knew Gregorius could play the field. That was the only given about bringing him into the organization. He has impressed by just how good he can be in the field, but frankly, the Yankees were banking on him being able to play the position. The bigger question was whether he would hit, and so far Gregorius has been alright at the plate. He had two hits today, he’s hitting .308, he seems to make a decent amount of hard contact, and he’s even hit lefties in the past week and a half or so.

“I think he’s outstanding in the field,” Joe Girardi said. “And I think he’s really swung the bat pretty well. You look at his last two weeks, he’s hit the ball consistently hard. He’s hit left-handers, he’s hit right-handers. I feel pretty good about it. … The other day, he smoked a ball (against a lefty). He’s swung the bat against left-handers as well. There’s a lot of talent there. Sometimes it’s just getting that opportunity to do it every day and maybe not looking over your shoulder that really brings it out.”

Right now, Gregorius has little reason to look over his shoulder. Stephen Drew is in camp, but the Yankees have not given him a single inning at shortstop this spring. Brendan Ryan is in camp, but he’s an occasionally platoon backup who won’t steal many at-bats. The next-in-line shortstops from the minor league system are minor league free agent Nick Noonan and all-glove, no-bat Cito Culver, who’s never played above Class A.

The shortstop position belongs to Gregorius, and so far, the Yankees seem to like what they see.

“You know, I always liked him from the little bit that we saw him (with Arizona),” Girardi said. “But I never saw him for a long period of time. It’s really hard for me to make a judgment. I’ll never forget the first home run he hit, I’m like, ‘Who’s this kid?’ It kind of stuck in my mind that there was talent there.”

Associated Press photo

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Manfred: “Baseball ought to welcome (Alex Rodriguez) back”03.26.15

Alex Rodriguez

Bitter rivals throughout baseball’s Biogenesis investigation, it now seems Rob Manfred and Alex Rodriguez have reached some level of peace and cooperation.

Commissioner Manfred was on hand to watch the Yankees play the Rays today, and he said he’s satisfied with the way Rodriguez has settled back into the game. Manfred even offered some words of congratulations on A-Rod’s strong spring training.

“I think I’ve been pretty public about this,” Manfred said. “Alex served a very long suspension. Once he served that time, baseball ought to welcome him back, and I think we’ve done a good job. The institution as a whole; teams, central baseball, everybody. He’s played well. Good for him.”

In his first spring training back from a year-long suspension, Rodriguez is hitting .290 with two home runs. His .516 slugging percentage is the second-highest among Yankees big leaguers. Although Rodriguez wasn’t in the lineup today, general manager Brian Cashman said yesterday that Rodriguez has played well enough to be the Yankees everyday designated hitter when the season starts.

“I’ve said all along that he’s swung the bat really well in spring training,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Would it be helpful if we could put him in the field every once in a while? Absolutely, to give the guys a day off. But he’s swung the bat well.”

Rodriguez has apologized for the “mistakes” that led to his suspension, and he’s specifically thanked the commissioner’s office for giving him the opportunity to play again. Manfred said Rodriguez will now be treated just like anyone else.

“He’ll be tested exactly like every other player who has violated the program,” Manfred said. “The program requires more frequent testing for players who are coming back after a suspension.”

Associated Press photo

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Pregame notes: Ellsbury scheduled to take swings today03.26.15

Jacoby Ellsbury

Really quiet day here in Tampa. The Yankees left early for a bus ride to Port Charlotte, and I’m about to hustled out the door to join them. This should be Adam Warren’s final start before the Yankees name a fifth starter, and he’s clearly the heavy favorite for the job. Have to imagine he’ll lock up the role as long as he pitches a reasonable game against the Rays.

Meanwhile, back in Tampa, Jacoby Ellsbury is scheduled to hit off a tee and hit some flips. He said his strained oblique has felt fine through all of the light stuff he’s been doing, but today will be his first time trying to do something even remotely explosive.

“I’m making good improvement,” he said. “So I’m excited to pick up a bat today. … I’m very optimistic.”

The Yankees are shooting for getting Ellsbury in games by Tuesday. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s playing minor league games, but the Yankees say Opening Day will be no problem as long as he’s in games by early next week.

Brendan Ryan• A welcome sight in the clubhouse this morning: big boxes in front of several big leaguer’s lockers. Guys are starting to pack up some stuff for New York. Means we’re almost home and almost through spring training. At this point, I think everyone in that clubhouse is just looking forward to getting home and getting the season started.

• No backup second baseman listed on today’s lineup card, suggesting Brendan Ryan is either going to spend all game at second or possibly split between second and third (no backup third baseman listed either). While obviously Ryan’s primary value comes from his ability to play defense at shortstop, the Yankees are planning to use him as the backup at both second and short, so getting some reps with Didi Gregorius makes sense. Would also make sense to see him at short with Stephen Drew at second tomorrow.

• The healthy big leaguers not going on today’s trip — basically everyone except Ellsbury — are scheduled  for normal drills and batting practice back in Tampa.

• Nathan Eovaldi and Esmil Rogers are each throwing bullpens today. Looks like Ivan Nova and Vicente Campos have bullpens tomorrow.

• Michael O’Neill and Ali Castillo are up from minor league camp to serve as extra guys off the bench. Not scheduled to play.

MartinGalvezToday’s second string: C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Jonathan Galvez, 2B none, SS Nick Noonan, 3B none, LF Ben Gamel, CF Jake Cave, RF none

Today’s scheduled relievers: Chris Martin, Danny Burawa, Jose Ramirez (with Tyler Webb, Nick Rumbelow, Cesar Vargas, Branden Pinder, Nick Goody

• Tomorrow’s travel squad to Clearwater:

Pitchers: Scott Baker, Danny Burawa, Kyle Davies, Jacob Lindgren, Chris Martin, Michael Pineda, Nick Rumbelow, Chasen Shreve
Catchers: Francisco Arcia, Kyle Higashioka, Brian McCann, Eddy Rodriguez
Infielders: Stephen Drew, Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Chase Headley, Nick Noonan, Rob Refsnyder, Alex Rodriguez, Brendan Ryan, Mark Teixeira
Outfielders: Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Chris Young

Associated Press photos

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Ryan starts at second with Didi at short03.26.15

RyanGregoriusDidi Gregorius SS
Brendan Ryan 2B
Garrett Jones 1B
Chris Young CF
John Ryan Murphy C
Rob Refsnyder DH
Slade Heathcott LF
Ramon Flores RF
Cole Figueroa 3B

RHP Adam Warren

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Cashman discusses spring decisions: starters, closers, catchers and A-Rod03.25.15

Brian Cashman

Right before today’s game, general manager Brian Cashman discussed some of the decisions the Yankees have to make in the next week and a half:

RogersWarrenChoosing a fifth starter
The Yankees came into camp with Chris Capuano as a rotation favorite, but his injury has opened the door to a true competition. While Chase Whitley, Bryan Mitchell and Scott Baker are a part of that conversation, the decision really seems to have come down to Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren. And right now, Warren is the front runner.

“I think there’s a predictable favorite,” Cashman said. “I guess that’s as far as I can go on that one. Right now, if we had to make a decision today, I think we all know what that decision would be. There’s a Secretariat right now in this race for me that’s got a number of lengths ahead of the field.”

Although he initially seemed hesitant to name a name, Cashman later acknowledged “it would obviously have to be Warren” who’s leading the race. That can change quickly, Cashman said, but it certainly seems that a solid start tomorrow would lock Warren into a rotation job.

RomineMurphyPicking a backup catcher
John Ryan Murphy was behind the plate today. Austin Romine will be behind the plate tomorrow. Neither is having a particularly good spring, and the Yankees seem to be giving each one an equal opportunity.

“Don’t have a read yet,” Cashman said. “It’ll take more time.”

For now, the Yankees have sent Gary Sanchez to Double-A. If it stays that way, the Yankees will have a Triple-A spot open just in case. Murphy still has an option remaining. Romine does not.

“It’ll factor in,” Cashman said.

WhitleyShreveRounding out the bullpen
The Yankees seem to have 10 pitchers set. They know their top four starters, they know four relievers, and they have two guys — Warren and Rogers — who will almost certainly have jobs in one role or another. That leaves two openings in the bullpen, and there are still plenty of options in camp: there are still 23 pitchers on the spring training roster.

Cashman made clear that this isn’t necessary a permanent decision. The Yankees are quite deep with hard-throwing right-handers, multiple lefties, and a handful of long-relief options.

“The clock is ticking,” Cashman said. “I don’t think it’s a lot of work, (but) I think we have to pick people, and whoever we pick at the end of this, it doesn’t mean that they’ll be guys throughout the process. We’ve had a number of guys that I think are quality and I think are Major League caliber, some of which have gone down with injuries. We’ll obviously finalize it here at some point, but that doesn’t mean we’re married to anybody as we move it through April, May and June.”

BetancesNaming a closer
With both Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller appearing to be obvious candidates for the job, Joe Girardi has said he might not name a full-time closer this spring. The managers seems to believe he has more than one guy who can handle the ninth inning, and he’s willing to use them as the situation dictates.

Cashman seems fine with that approach. Basically, it doesn’t seem to be a problem, so there doesn’t seem to be a rush to solve it.

“I haven’t focused on it,” Cashman said. “I just want as many quality arms and choices for our manager as we can possibly have, and go from there. Again, we don’t have to name anything right now, or today, so I’ve got other issues I’m thinking about. It’s not one I’m thinking about right now or my manager’s thinking about right now. Backup catcher and the remaining spots in the pen.”

RodriguezHow to use Alex Rodriguez
Cashman said time and time again — from the early offseason to the start of spring training — that he had no idea what to expect from a 39-year-old coming back from a year-long suspension. Cashman expected A-Rod to be on the team, just didn’t know what exactly he’d be able to do.

Now the Yankees have actually seen Rodriguez perform, and while the results might not have been overwhelming, they’ve been encouraging. They’ve been enough for the Yankees to imagine having Rodriguez in their everyday lineup.

“I think he’s certainly taken a run at the full-time DH situation, for me,” Cashman said. “We’ll talk about all these things, but the way he’s looked so far down here, I would say he’s definitely pushing himself in the mix for full-time DH consideration. … I’m not looking at performance and statistics as much as just how he’s been swinging the bat. He’s got a lot of life in his body. If he continues to show athleticism, that means he’s going to impact the baseball. That will be good for us.”

Associated Press photo

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