The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Archive for the ‘Misc’

Monday morning notes: Eovaldi slowed by sore groin02.29.16

Nathan Eovaldi

Late last week, Nathan Eovaldi was running with the team when he felt minor tightness in his left groin. He was scheduled to throw live batting practice the next day, so he went to the trainers to have the groin wrapped as a precaution. The team took it a step further, cancelling the live BP session.

“If it was during the season, I wouldn’t have missed any time,” Eovaldi said. “It’s something so minor, they’re just being really cautious with it because it’s spring training and we have time to use, time to our advantage.”

Eovaldi has continued playing catch and going through fielding drills. He will throw another bullpen on Wednesday (would have thrown one tomorrow, but the team is off for a bonding activity).

“I haven’t missed a day of catch or anything like that,” Eovaldi said. “It’s my landing leg. When I did feel it, it wasn’t when I stride toward the mound. It’s going back the other way. I really don’t feel it at all (at this point). It feels fine, and they’re just being really cautious with it.”

As you can probably tell, Eovaldi seems thoroughly unconcerned. The Yankees are notoriously cautious with injuries, especially in spring training. There has been no indication from the Yankees that they think this remotely puts Opening Day in jeopardy.

“Arm feels good. Elbow feels good. Shoulder. Everything feels great,” Eovaldi said. “They’re just being really cautious.”

WadeChapman• This morning, a group of four big leaguers threw live batting practice. Among them was Aroldis Chapman, and among those who faced him was young shortstop Tyler Wade. “It was like a blur,” Wade said. “But he has got really good breaking stuff (as well). It makes you feel really uncomfortable, and I can understand why he’s one of the best pitchers in the league. … I can’t even imagine (what it’s like when he’s at full velocity), especially being a left-handed hitter. One of the best in the game.”

• After the batting practice session, Wade actually went up to Chapman, slapped him on the shoulder and said something very brief. “(I said) thank you,” Wade said. “And I was just like, hey man, your stuff looks really good and just keep doing what you’re doing.”

• Interesting change to today’s infield workout groups: The Yankees have basically put all of their big league infielders together. And that big league group includes Rob Refsnyder. It’s the four projected starters, plus Refsnyder and Dustin Ackley.

• First-round draft pick James Kaprielian said he will make his spring training debut on Friday. Branden Pinder will pitch out of the bullpen on Thursday. Nick Rumbelow and Nick Goody are each scheduled to pitch in Wednesday’s spring opener.

• Today is a scheduled light day for Brett Gardner. He’s scheduled to increase his workload tomorrow by taking full batting practice in the indoor cage (swinging at actual batting practice pitches, not just tee and toss). He’s still not hitting on the field and still not taking live batting practice, but it will be another step forward.

• Although it seems Gardner will take some swings, there is no Yankees workout tomorrow. The team will instead participate in a team bonding event. No word yet what exactly they’ll be doing. The Yankees have done this most years since Joe Girardi became manager.

Michael PinedaMorning side sessions

Mark Montgomery (to Francisco Diaz)
Kyle Haynes (to Sebastian Valle)
Michael Pineda (to Santiago Nessy)

Morning live batting practice
Facing Cesar Puello, Ben Gamel, Jorge Mateo and Tyler Wade

Andrew Miller (to Austin Romine)
Dellin Betances (to Gary Sanchez)
Aroldis Chapman (to Carlos Corporan)
CC Sabathia (to Eddy Rodriguez)

Afternoon live batting practice
Facing hitting Groups 1-4 on Field 1; Groups 5-8 on Field 2

Field 1
Bryan Mitchell (to Brian McCann)
Richard Bleier (to Austin Romine)
Anthony Swarzak (to Carlos Corporan)
James Kaprielian (to Gary Sanchez)
Diego Moreno (to Carlos Corporan)

Field 2
Chasen Shreve (to Sebastian Valle)
Vinnie Pestano (to Sebastian Valle)
Kirby Yates (to Kyle Higashioka)
James Pazos (to Francisco Diaz)
Luis Cessa (Santiago Nessy)

Infield drills

Group 1: Dustin Ackley, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Rob Refsnyder, Mark Teixeira
Group 2: Jonathan Diaz, Jorge Mateo, Chris Parmelee, Deibinson Romero, Donovan Solano, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade

Batting practice

Group 1: Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Jorge Mateo, Rob Refsnyder
Group 2: Dustin Ackley, Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez
Group 3: Jonathan Diaz, Chris Parmelee, Deibinson Romero, Donovan Solano
Group 4: Carlos Corporan, Brian McCann, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez
Group 5: Carlos Beltran, Dustin Fowler, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge
Group 6: Jacoby Ellsbury, Slade Heathcott, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade
Group 7: Lane Adams, Ben Gamel, Cesar Puello, Mason Williams
Group 8: Francisco Diaz, Kyle Higashioka, Santiago Nessy, Sebastian Valle, Eddy Rodriguez

Associated Press photos

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Video: Refsnyder working on patience and timing at third base02.29.16

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

Three days. That’s all the time Rob Refsnyder has spent at third base, and those “days” were really just a few minutes of ground balls and instruction during the past week of spring training. It’s far too early in the process to know whether his transition is going to work.

“Three days in, it’s been good,” Refsnyder said. “I feel pretty comfortable there. I’m excited to see how it goes in games. … They’re going to have some ongoing conversations to see when they should throw me in there (in a game). Right now I feel pretty good, but it will be nice to get a couple more days of work in.”

The video above is Refsnyder taking ground balls yesterday afternoon. With no one else on the field, Carlos Mendoza would toss a ball to Justin Tordi — those two are minor league infield instructors — and Tordi would hit ground balls with some authority to Refsnyder, who would field and look to first base without making a throw. There was no first baseman to throw to.

RefsnyderIt seems the throw itself is less of a concern than simply getting Refsnyder used to the angle and being in a position to make that throw. Throughout those individual drills on Sunday, Mendoza and Tordi kept stressing that third basemen have plenty of time. The ball gets to them quickly, so there’s often little reason to rush. The Y ankees want Refsnyder to get set and make a good throw.

Refsnyder said that’s one thing he’s noticed in watching video of established third basemen: They don’t panic, and they don’t rush.

“Most of my errors last spring training — and most of my errors professionally — have been about knowing the speed of the game,” Refsnyder said. “(They were about) knowing how much time you have, or don’t have, when you get the ball. Those things come with time, with playing the position. You get this internal clock where you know if you can take an extra step, take a little more time because you know the base runner (isn’t close to first base). Those are the things I’ll need to learn in the game.

“A hard line drive or one-hopper, I’ll have time to set my feet and make a good throw. Or if it’s a ball to my right and I have to range to my right, I’ll have to come up throwing right away. Those are things I want to get the timing in games, so the earlier I can get in a game, the more game reps I can get.”

Joe Girardi has said that he wants Refsnyder to play both second base and third base this spring (because of Refsnyder’s outfield experience in college and again in 2014, Girardi thinks Refsnyder could play outfield in a pinch without playing there this spring). That leaves Refsnyder with two defensive challenges. He’s still establishing himself at second, and now he’s trying to prove he can passably play third.

Girardi said he won’t put Refsnyder in a game at third base until Refsnyder says he’s ready.

“Joe wants players he knows can help him win,” Refsnyder said. “I think (being passed over in the past) was more just Joe trusting me as a ballplayer. It took some time, and it took him kind of seeing me play. I think that was the biggest thing. I think it was more just Joe trusting me as a player, and it’s flattering that they trust me enough to work out at a new position and see how it goes. I’d just say it’s flattering. I’m pumped and I’m ready to work.”

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Players association offers little clarity on Chapman situation02.28.16

Aroldis Chapman

As executive director of the MLB Players Association, former first baseman Tony Clark makes the rounds in spring training. He stops by every big league camp to talk to players about recent issues — anything from the upcoming CBA negotiations to the new sliding rules at second base. When he’s finished talking to the players, he talks to the media.

And in Yankees camp this morning, talking to the media meant talking about Aroldis Chapman.

So after 32 minutes with the head of the players union, what did I learn about Chapman’s situation? Absolutely nothing, except the fact Clark seems just as uncertain about it as anyone.

The league’s domestic violence policy is new, and Chapman, Yasiel Puig and Jose Reyes are the first players to be investigated under the policy. There are no exact guidelines for punishment and no precedent to consider. This is new for everyone, including Clark and the commissioner.

“We worked to negotiate a policy that we knew was better than the one we had as it relates to any and all people that may be involved in this discussion,” Clark said. “It’s a very difficult conversation to have. It’s a very sensitive issue to discuss. But our job (as a union) is very fundamental: we protect, defend and advance the rights of our members. That’s what we do.”

Clark said he remains committed to Chapman, which means being committed to making sure Chapman’s rights are not violated. If the punishment seems too severe, it seems Chapman will appeal and the players association will support him.

As for answering questions before a decision is announced, Clark could not provide much concrete information, mostly because every answer seems to hinge upon what the league does.

Tony Clark1. Can Chapman play during an appeal?

At first, Clark said “yes.” It was a definite answer with no hesitation. A player can play while appealing a suspension. Later in the interview, though, Clark acknowledged the league could put Chapman on paid leave — as it did with Reyes — which would not let him play or participate in workouts.

“It depends on what it is they decide to determine on the front end,” Clark said. “We understand that there are sensitivities here. We understand that based on those sensitivities, each individual case may be a little bit different. Is there that possibility? Sure. Is there a possibility it goes the other way? Sure.”

2. Can Chapman participate in spring training if he’s suspended?

Again, that depends entirely on the punishment itself.

“I don’t know,” Clark said. “As I mentioned before each individual case is different. I’m sure there are considerations that will be made as a result, but I don’t know what to expect or anticipate this time.”

3. If Chapman is suspended and appeals, how quickly would he have a hearing?

Basically, as soon as possible, but there’s really no telling what that means.

“There’s expedited versus not,” Clark said. “What expedited simply means is: as soon as we can schedule a date with the arbitrator, we will do so. … There are always emergency or expedited opportunities there for a particular issue. Particularly against the backdrop of the season and the challenges that exist, I would anticipate that should there ever be an appeal related to a domestic violence, that it would look to be expedited.”

4. Why does this policy not include set punishments to avoid this uncertainty?

“When you talk to experts who have been in the field for a long period of time, you realize there is no one-size-fits-all (punishment),” Clark said. “Even if on the surface there are issues and concerns related to a particular case, even if on the surface it looks similar to another one, it may not be.”

It seems the two sides agreed to just argue punishments on a case-by-case basis.

“We wanted to make sure that there was flexibility here, appreciating that these cases are all different,” Clark said. “I can’t tell you how many experts we talked to in this area, trying to appreciate what made the most sense. When you realize that they don’t agree often times, having a hard and fast rule can be challenging and can be more dangerous than the flexibility that we can argue about.”

5. Is the union disappointed by players being investigated for this sort of thing?

“I’m concerned,” Clark said. “The reason I’m concerned as much as anything is because of how and what I appreciate is part of a domestic violence and domestic abuse conversation. Things that, if you had asked me about a year and a half ago, I would have shook my head at because I wouldn’t have known or understood what is part of that conversation.

“The truth is, it is difficult. Situations that players find themselves in are difficult. Situations family members may find themselves in are difficult. They are personal and they are sensitive, and appreciating how those may manifest themselves and the feelings of those who are involved is hard to determine. No, I’m not disappointed; I’m concerned with all those involved. I’m very interested in making sure that everyone understands and appreciates what we’re talking about here, what is part of that conversation, what are the things that we can do to help support the members that we represent across the board beyond just domestic violence.”

Associated Press photos

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Ivan Nova still trying to earn his keep in Yankees camp02.28.16

Ivan Nova

There are 31 pitchers in Yankees camp this spring, and none has been with the organization longer than 29-year-old Nova. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2004, made his big league debut in 2010, and he will be a free agent this winter.

Still, it seems the Yankees aren’t entirely sure what to make of him or what to do with him.

“Any time I come here, I have the mindset that I have to earn a job,” Nova said. “They don’t give me anything. I have to go out there and prove that I can be a starting pitcher. I have to prove it, and I have to earn it. They don’t give it to you; you have to go and fight for it.”

Ivan Nova, Joe GirardiIn his best moments, Nova has been an impact starter with a 2.78 ERA in the second half of 2012 and a 3.10 ERA in 2013. He had a 3.10 ERA through his first seven starts back from Tommy John surgery last season.

In his worst moments, though, Nova has been unusable. Even in that strong 2013 season, he was so bad early in the year that the Yankees optioned him to Triple-A. Last season, he was pulled from the rotation late in the year.

The Yankees have six candidates for five rotation jobs, and Nova seems like the odd man out at the moment. If every starter is healthy and productive this spring, would the Yankees really roll the dice with Nova ahead of young standout Luis Severino or veteran leader CC Sabathia?

“You hope everyone’s healthy,” manager Joe Girardi said. “But you’re not exactly sure what you got. There’s some things that we have to overcome in spring training. I don’t think there’s huge obstacles, but there is still things, hurdles that guys have to pass. So, not really looking at, is this guy a favorite, is that guy a favorite? Let’s see what we got, then make our decisions on that.”

Today, Girardi singled out Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi as pitchers expected to be in the rotation as long as they’re healthy (of course, with those three, health is not a given). Even if those three are healthy, it still leaves two open spots. Severino is often labeled as a near-lock for one of them, but Girardi stopped short of putting him in the same category as the top three.

“You have to see how he responds,” Girardi said. “I mean, he does not have a huge body of work. Your expectation is that he’s going to be one of our starters from what we saw (last year), but we’ve seen that not always translate that second year.”

As for Sabathia, his past three seasons have provided plenty of reasons to question his durability and effectiveness, but if he and Nova deliver identical springs — both healthy and both productive — would a tiebreaker really go to Nova? From the outside looking in, that seems hard to believe.

If there’s no room for Nova in the Opening Day rotation, he could slide into a bullpen role, perhaps as a replacement for Adam Warren, but he’s rarely worked out of the pen. Nova’s made it clear that he still sees himself as a starter. The Yankees are well aware of that. For better and for worse, there’s not a pitcher in camp who’s more familiar.

“I don’t need to show them anything,” Nova said. “I just have to prove to myself that I can be a good pitcher in the big leagues. If they have any doubt, I’m sure I wouldn’t be here. I don’t think I have to prove anything; just more to myself.”

Associated Press photos

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Sunday workouts set: Severino to start Wednesday’s spring opener02.28.16

Ivan Nova, Larry Rothschild, Joe Girardi

Joe Girardi today announced his starting pitchers for the first few Yankees spring training games.

Wednesday: Luis Severino
Thursday: Ivan Nova
Friday: Bryan Mitchell

Why those three?

“Guys that are ready,” Girardi said. ”

Worth noting that Severino threw live batting practice on Friday, meaning he will have four days off before he pitches in the spring debut. Nova threw live batting practice today, meaning he will have just three days off before his first start. Mitchell threw just a bullpen on Saturday and will presumably do something — live BP or another bullpen — before Friday’s start.

In other words, different pitchers are on slightly different schedules. The Yankees don’t treat everyone the exact same. As for when the other big league starters will get in a game, Girardi said he wasn’t sure. Michael Pineda has thrown live batting practice. Masahiro Tanaka, Nathan Eovaldi and CC Sabathia have not.

“It’s more just determining when exactly we think that they’re ready to go,” Girardi said. “The other guys should start throwing BPs pretty soon, and then that will get them close.”

I talked to one minor league pitcher who said he’s supposed to throw a simulated game before pitching in a real spring training game, and I have to assume that’s true for several young guys.

GardnerAnother good day for Gardner

For the second day in a row, Brett Gardner did tee-and-toss this afternoon (25 swings of each). He also did some throwing and went through some outfield drills. He won’t swing tomorrow, then he’s scheduled to take full indoor batting practice on Tuesday (with a coach actually pitching to him rather than simply flipping the ball).

“He is doing better,” Girardi said. “He feels better today.”

Gardner said it was basically a no news kind of day for him. In fact, he seemed more interested in seeing videos of the on-the-loose raccoon than discussing his own day of workouts.

Nova takes a comebacker to the leg

During live batting practice this afternoon, Ivan Nova took a comebacker off the hip from Aaron Judge.

“That’s probably not the guy you want doing it,” Girardi said. “You don’t want anybody doing it, but that would not be the first guy I would pick to do it.”

Nova was fine. He stayed in to finish the live BP session, then high-fived Judge as he walked off the field.

“It hit the glove first,” Nova said. “It don’t hit me too hard. It hit the glove first and then my leg.”

RefsnyderRefsnyder getting more reps at third

During individual fielding drills, Rob Refsnyder got quite a bit of work at third base with infield coaches Carlos Mendoza and Justin Tordi. There was no first baseman. The drills were mostly all about working on Refsnyder’s footwork, with Tordi constantly telling him to remember he had plenty of time to make the throw (the ball gets to the third baseman very quickly). Refsnyder also did a very little bit of third base work during group fielding drills. He was at third for a few bunt drills, but he didn’t do much.

“We won’t put him at third (in a game) until he, in his mind, feels comfortable,” Girardi said. “We’ll ask (him to) give us a day when you think you’re ready to go to third, because I don’t want to put him in a situation where he’s uncomfortable just walking out there.”

Starlin Castro has yet to do work at third base. Instead, he’s spent some of the more focused defensive drills working alongside Didi Gregorius. That’s a priority. That said, even if Refsnyder looks great at third, Girardi said he still wants to see Castro get a little bit of third base experience.

“I still think we’ll have him do it,” Girardi said. “But I want to get him comfortable with Didi. I think that’s important.”

Chase Headley, Alex RodriguezNo rush to see lineup regulars

The Yankees open the spring schedule at home, and sometimes they go with a bunch of big league regulars for the first home spring training game, but Girardi said he’s not planning to play all of his regulars on Wednesday. There’s also a home game on Thursday, and Girardi said he’ll probably split the everyday guys between those two days.

Plus, older guys like Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran aren’t likely to play early spring games anyway.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll put Alex or Carlos in there,” Girardi said. “Just give them maybe a couple more days to get their feet under them. I’ll see how they feel as we get closer. They have not said they are not ready to go. It’s just me being (cautious).”

Defensive rotations

While all of the experienced minor league infielders continue to get time at multiple positions, the Yankees have kept prospects Jorge Mateo and Tyler Wade at shortstop for defensive drills. Wade went to second for a little bit during batting practice the other day, but he’s been strictly a shortstop in team fielding drills, and Mateo has worked a ton with Didi Gregorius.

The other utility types, though, continue to swap positions on a daily basis. Today Donovan Solano was at shortstop, while Jonathan Diaz and Ronald Torreyes were at second base. Practicing moves to control the running game, Dustin Ackley stayed at first base. I assume the Yankees trust that he knows how to take a throw at second base from the catcher.

Associated Press photos

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Video: Raccoon on the loose in Yankees camp02.28.16

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

Just finished talking to MLB Players Association director Tony Clark. I’ll have full comments later, but the basic takeaway regarding a possible Aroldis Chapman suspension is this: Anything and everything seems to be on the table. Whether he can participate in spring training, whether he can play during an appeal, how long the suspension lasts — it all depends on what exactly the league decides to do. And right now, the union has no idea what the league is going to do.

For now, here’s video of a rather bizarre event in Yankees camp. A raccoon climbed to the top of the net behind home plate at Steinbrenner Field, and when stadium staff knocked him to the ground — following a long battle — the raccoon went on the run.

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Sunday morning notes: Lindgren ready to show what he’s learned02.28.16

Royals Yankees Baseball

It’s been more than eight months since Jacob Lindgren gave up a Camden Yards home run to Caleb Joseph and wound up sent down to Triple-A the very next day. His seven-game cup of coffee had not gone as planned. Lindgren had allowed four walks and three home runs in seven innings — those were the first home runs he’d allowed since his sophomore year in college — and upon returning to the minors, he was diagnosed with an elbow bone spur that required season-ending surgery.

Now he’s back in Yankees camp, finally given an opportunity to show he’s learned from his uneven Major League debut.

“I feel like I know my identity,” he said. “I know what I have to do to get outs. … I feel like I’m coming back stronger and ready to compete.”

LindgrenHow much did the elbow impact his big league stint last season?

“You know, it was something I was kind of dealing with,” he said “But I didn’t think it was that big of a deal at the time. Eventually it just got worse and worse. But at the time, I was just trying to get outs and stuff like that.”

Instead, Lindgren said the 5.14 ERA and surprising number of home runs were a product of poor location and poorly executed pitches. That’s not a groundbreaking revelation, but it’s the sort of eye-opening experience many young pitchers go through at some point.

“I would say, they take advantage more of your misses at that level,” Lindgren said. “In the minor leagues you can get away with more, for sure. It just made me realize I’ve really got to work on executing my pitchers and things like that. … When you leave a ball up, anybody can hit it.”

This spring, Lindgren has been encouraged. He was throwing off a mound by the end of last season and had a relatively normal winter. Lindgren threw a live batting practice earlier this week and said his pitches were working just as they did before the elbow surgery. He’ll throw another live BP session this afternoon.

If Lindgren can execute his pitches with a little more consistency, he could have the sort of impact the Yankees envisioned when they drafted him with their first pick in 2014. There are big league bullpen spots available, and Lindgren seems to be in the competition for one of those jobs.

“I’m only doing what I can handle, you know what I mean?” Lindgren said. “I can’t worry about other people. I kind of have to do what I’ve always done and just kind of compete out there and see what happens.”

Gardner• Only saw Brett Gardner very briefly this morning and didn’t get a chance to talk to him. Joe Girardi said yesterday that the plan is for Gardner to hit for the second day in a row. Seems so far, so good in his early work back from a wrist bone bruise.

• After two sessions of individual work at third base, Rob Refsnyder said he feels pretty encouraged by the early results. The throw is obviously longer, and he said he’s working on having a strong base set when he makes that throw. It’s still very, very early in the process, but Refsnyder said he feels more comfortable at third base than he did after his first two sessions learning second base.

• Although I thought he’d be a candidate to start the exhibition opener, Bryan Mitchell said he doesn’t think he’ll be starting the first game. Could still have one of the early starts, though. He said the Yankees sent him to Puerto Rico this offseason specifically to have him get some innings and get back into the routine of starting after spending the second half of last season pitching mostly out of the bullpen.

• The Yankees are meeting with the MLB Players Association this morning. Although I think he’s often seen as the Yankees’ representative to the players’ union, Andrew Miller does not have that title. He’s done that in the past, and remains very involved, but Miller said teams have lately moved toward having a younger player serve as the representative as a way to get new guys involved in the union. Chasen Shreve was the one handing out material to the players in the clubhouse this morning. Miller said it looks like Shreve could be the rep this year, or at least he could be involved in some capacity.

• Good stuff from Mark Feinsand in today’s Daily News. Mark talked to first-round draft pick James Kaprielian about the death of his mother, and the way Kaprielian coped with the devastation. “There’s no way people know how to deal with something like this,” Kaprielian said. Interesting look into a defining moment in a young man’s life.

• Just an observation: Most pitchers have been on an every-three-days schedule, taking two days off between sessions. If they remain on that schedule, some of the guys who face hitters today could be on track to pitch in Wednesday’s spring opener. Whoever starts that game might be on a different schedule, but maybe we’ll see some of the bullpen candidates — Branden Pinder, Nick Rumbelow, Johnny Barbato — on Wednesday?

• Among the players scheduled for early work tomorrow: Andrew Miller, CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman.

Masahiro TanakaSide sessions
Throwing to the Yankees’ bullpen catchers

Masahiro Tanaka
Michael Pineda
Luis Severino
Tyler Cloyd
Brady Lail

Live batting practice

Field 1
Ivan Nova (to Brian McCann)
Branden Pinder (to Gary Sanchez)
Nick Rumbelow (to Santiago Nessy)
Jacob Lindgren (to Santiago Nessy)
Vicente Campos (to Sebastian Valle)

Field 2
Johnny Barbato (to Carlos Corporan)
Tyler Olson (to Austin Romine)
Nick Goody (to Francisco Diaz)
Tyler Webb (to Kyle Higashioka)
Chad Green (to Eddy Rodriguez)

Infield drills

Group 1: Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Jorge Mateo, Chris Parmelee, Rob Refsnyder, Deibinson Romero, Ronald Torreyes
Group 2: Dustin Ackley, Jonathan Diaz, Chase Headley, Donovan Solano, Mark Teixeira, Tyler Wade

Batting practice
Groups 1-4 on Field 1; Groups 5-8 on Field 2

Group 1: Carlos Beltran, Dustin Fowler, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge
Group 2: Jacoby Ellsbury, Slade Heathcott, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez
Group 3: Lane Adams, Ben Gamel, Cesar Puello, Mason Williams
Group 4: Brian McCann, Santiago Nessy, Gary Sanchez, Sebastian Valle
Group 5: Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Jorge Mateo, Rob Refsnyder
Group 6: Dustin Ackley, Chase Headley, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade
Group 7: Jonathan Diaz, Chris Parmelee, Deibinson Romero, Donovan Solano
Group 8: Carlos Corporan, Francisco Diaz, Kyle Higashioka, Eddy Rodriguez, Austin Romine

Associated Press photos

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Scouting report on Mateo: “That batch of tools that he has is pretty rare”02.27.16

Taboola Home/Section Front Player

Spent a little bit of time this afternoon watching Jorge Mateo take ground balls at shortstop. Afterward, I asked one of the Yankees talent evaluators to explain what he sees when he watches Mateo play shortstop. What physical tools make the Yankees — and most of baseball, it seems — so certain this 20-year-old kid can stick at such a demanding position.

“He’s got the foot speed,” the evaluator said. “He’s got the quick reaction. Arm strength. The hands I think are something that I think need to be more consistent, but the athleticism that he has is not really seen very often. The thought is that there’s room improvement with time, and that he’s going to be able to stick there just because that batch of tools that he has is pretty rare.”

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Saturday workout notes: Mitchell, Gardner, German, Tanaka, Mateo02.27.16

Masahiro Tanaka

The Yankees are testing a couple of young infielders at second base. They have six starters for five rotation spots. They have to pick a backup catcher. There’s one spot relatively wide open on the bench. The bullpen has plenty of openings and plenty of candidates. All of that has been discussed quite a bit in this first week or so of spring training.

Today, Joe Girardi was asked about filling one very specific hole that the Yankees created themselves. How do the Yankees go about replacing Adam Warren?

Mitchell“Oh, I think there’s a number of guys who could do it,” Girardi said. “A number of the young starters could do it. And the thing about Adam is, Adam had to learn that role, and Adam was one of those guys that he had the normal progression in spring training where he got more comfortable each year and could really blossom and be the guy we knew he was capable of being. … The ability is there, but it took Adam time to grow into that role.”

Obviously filling that Warren role is a decision related to the rotation decision and the other bullpen decisions. Is Ivan Nova needed in the rotation? If not, can he be a kind of swing man out of the bullpen? Can one of the young relievers be stretched out to pitch three innings or so at a time? Does it make more sense to have Bryan Mitchell in a big league long relief role or in the Triple-A rotation?

“I think (Mitchell)’s capable of doing it,” Girardi said. “He has the stuff to do it, because he’s a starter he has the ability to get left handers and right handers out. he’s not just a specialist. He has the ability. … There are a lot of things you have to measure. You have to measure on how it kind of breaks out, the five starters, you have to measure out making sure that you have a starter if someone goes down. And we have to win, so you want to take your best guys so there’s a lot of different things you have to weigh in on.”

Just guessing here, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Mitchell given a chance to start one of these early spring training games. Seemed Warren always got an early start in spring training. That job makes sense for Mitchell, especially since Girardi has said he doesn’t expect many of the top six starters to take a start the first turn through the rotation.

Gary Sanchez, Joe GirardiSteady progress for Gardner

Another day of tee and toss for Brett Gardner. Nothing substantially different from what he did on Thursday, though he did extend his throwing a little bit.

“Everything felt good,” he said. “I think the plan is for me to do the same thing tomorrow. Hopefully early next week I’ll take live BP and ramp it up a little bit. … I’m hopeful that by the end of next week I’ll be caught up with everybody else and be ready for a game.”

Both Gardner and Girardi expressed absolutely confidence that he’ll be ready for Opening Day.

No ligament damage for German

The Yankees have gotten the MRI results for Domingo German, the pitching prospect who went for tests after feeling elbow discomfort yesterday.

“He had a strain in his flexor muscle and an edema in his elbow, a bone bruise basically,” Girardi said. “They will do a contrast dye (MRI), though, on Monday because that is the tell-all. But the preliminary report on the MRI is that the ligament was fine.”

German said this morning that he thought it was a nerve issue, but that was before he knew the MRI results. Clearly there’s something going on, but it could be little more than predictable wear and tear from rehab after Tommy John surgery.

Michael PinedaSpring rotation announcement tomorrow

Still no word on which Yankees will start the early exhibition games, but Girardi said he plans to make that announcement tomorrow. In fact, he specifically told Larry Rothschild to let the first few starters know which day they’re pitching so that Girardi could make those decisions public on Sunday. The first exhibition game is Wednesday.

As for any early thoughts on the pitching staff this spring:

“I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen,” Girardi said. “I think there’s a number of good arms, and I think it could come down to a pretty good competition as we move forward here for those last few spots in the bullpen. There’s some guys that have more experience than others. There’s guys that have good arms. But it’s going to come down to performance in the end. As I told them, I’m not going to judge you too early, because I don’t think that’s fair. I’ve seen a lot of strikes. I thought (James) Kaprielian threw very well today. I thought his bullpen was really good. I see some good things.”

Tanaka goes long

Most pitchers scheduled for early work today threw off a mound in some capacity. The one exception was Masahiro Tanaka, who did only some flat-ground work including long toss. So why did Tanaka have to work out early to do that?

“His early (work) was long toss because his long toss takes longer than most people’s,” Girardi said. “So he did what he was supposed to do.”

Why does it take Tanaka longer?

“Maybe he goes slower, I don’t know,” Girardi said. “Maybe he likes to throw longer, I don’t know. But he just likes to have adequate time to where he’s not rushed.”

Funny that almost everything Tanaka does gets a ton of attention and scrutiny. With almost anyone else, we’d probably never notice that they do long toss at a different time or for a longer amount of time than anyone else. That’s just not the sort of thing that gets any attention. With Tanaka, though, we tend to question every little thing just in case there’s something going on with his elbow.

WadeMateoBrothers up the middle

Had my first real conversation with Jorge Mateo this afternoon. Really polite kid. He has a locker in the back part of the clubhouse right next to Tyler Wade. Those are are arguably the top two shortstop prospects in the system — certainly the top shortstop prospects who have advanced beyond short-season ball — and although they haven’t played together a ton, their interaction in the clubhouse suggests they’re pretty close.

“Mi hermano,” Mateo said. “My brother.”

I appreciated Mateo providing the translation, but I actually knew that one. 

Defensive assignments

During the group defensive drills, Dustin Ackley was back at first base working on bunt coverage. He played mostly second base yesterday, but he was strictly at first base for the team drills today. Donovan Solano worked at third base for the second day in a row, Jonathan Diaz was back at second base, and Ronald Torreyes moved to third after working at shortstop yesterday. Torreyes and Diaz each played some second and short during some individual drills, and Wade spent a little bit of time at second during batting practice.

During group defensive drills, both Starlin Castro and Rob Refsnyder were at second base for the third day in a row. It’s possibly Refsnyder took some grounders at third during individual defensive drills, but I was on the other field watching batting practice, so I’m honestly not sure. Neither of those two has done any third base work with a big group of infielders.

Associated Press photos

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Saturday morning notes: German says setback involved nerve, not ligament02.27.16

GermanIn his first year back from Tommy John surgery, pitching prospect Domingo German was sent for MRI after he felt some discomfort in his elbow during a bullpen session on Friday.

Through a translator, German said this morning that he still doesn’t know the full results of that MRI, but he’s confident the issue is not in the ligament itself.

“A little discomfort in the elbow, but fortunately it’s nothing bad,” he said. “Apparently it’s kind of a nerve (issue).”

Sitting at his locker yesterday afternoon, German had a rather large brace on his elbow, but there was no brace this morning. I can’t imagine he’s going to be pitching any time soon, but German was laughing with teammates this morning and certainly did not look like a guy who believes he’s had a significant setback. Is he worried?

“No, not at all,” he said. “It was just a nerve. I feel good.”

Gregorius• Today was Photo Day at Yankees camp, which means players went station-to-station posing for a series of pictures for various companies and media outlets. Apparently Didi Gregorius began joking around by taking his own pictures. Inside the stadium, there was one station setup with a smoke machine for some sort of dramatic shot, possibly for the scoreboard (though that’s just my own speculation). Not everyone was asked to take those elaborate pictures. “I wasn’t invited to that party,” said one young Yankees prospect.

• Although he’s not scheduled for a bullpen of live batting practice today, Masahiro Tanaka did throw off flat ground.

• Today was my first time meeting slick-fielding infielder Pete Kozma. Hampered by a lower-back injury, Kozma hasn’t been participating in drills, but he said he actually feels pretty good at this point, and he’s just waiting for the green light to get out on the field and into the team workouts.

• Tomorrow is the Yankees’ meeting with the MLB Players Association, which means executive director Tony Clark should be in town. We’re still awaiting word on a possible Aroldis Chapman suspension, and Clark has previously said the players union will support its players being investigated for domestic violence.

MitchellMorning bullpen sessions

James Kaprielian (to Kyle Higashioka)
Diego Moreno (to Francisco Diaz)
Bryan Mitchell (to Gary Sanchez)

Live batting practice
Facing Lane Adams and Ben Gamel

Mark Montgomery (to Eddy Rodriguez)
Kyle Haynes (to Carlos Corporan)

CastroInfield drills

Group 1: Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Jorge Mateo, Chris Parmelee, Rob Refsnyder, Deibinson Romero, Ronald Torreyes
Group 2: Dustin Ackley, Jonathan Diaz, Chase Headley, Donovan Solano, Mark Teixeira, Tyler Wade

Batting practice

Group 1: Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Rob Refsnyder, Brian McCann
Group 2: Dustin Ackley, Chase Headley, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira
Group 3: Jonathan Diaz, Chris Parmelee, Deibinson Romero, Donovan Solano
Group 4: Jorge Mateo, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Eddy Rodriguez
Group 5: Carlos Beltran, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Carlos Corporan
Group 6: Jacoby Ellsbury, Slade Heathcott, Austin Romine, Gary Sanchez
Group 7: Lane Adams, Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Francisco Diaz, Kyle Higashioka
Group 8: Dustin Fowler, Cesar Puello, Santiago Nessy, Sebastian Valle

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