In the second half of last season, the Cubs basically benched Starlin Castro, then told him that getting back in the lineup meant playing a new position. That’s how he came to be a second baseman. It was out of necessity. The Cubs no longer had room for a shortstop, so Castro had to become something else.
“It’s big difference,” he said this morning. “It’s not the same thing when you’re in the minor leagues. The position, you switch the position, we’ve got plenty of time to practice that position (in the minors). Now they’re saying in the middle of the season, you’ve got to get out there quickly and learn it right away, just (be) ready to play. The first two or three games, I don’t feel really comfortable. I feel the ball was hitting backwards. I just take early work every day and start every day feeling better. I think the most difficult thing is doing the double play. After doing a couple, I feel great.”
Necessity forced Castro to learn second base last season. Curiosity will put him at third base occasionally this spring.
When the Yankees acquired Castro in December, they saw him as an everyday second baseman. They also saw him as a guy who could add some experienced depth at shortstop and just might be able to add some depth at third. It’s a position Castro hasn’t played since rookie ball in 2009, but the Yankees asked if he’d be willing to give it a shot, and Castro agreed.
“I never do it,” Castro said. “But I (will) just start practice maybe next week, start taking the ground balls over there. You know, let’s see how I feel. … I just listen all the things that the coaches tell me about playing that position. You just try to learn. I never stop the learning. If I get in there try to learn it quick, and when I get the opportunity to play there, I just play good.”
During yesterday’s first full-squard workout, Castro took all of his defensive reps at second base. Sounds like he could do the same today. The Yankees want to see how he looks at third, but second base is now his priority, and he’s still learning that position as well.
“Last year I didn’t play (second base) too much, but I start feeling really comfortable,” he said. “Now I feel really a little bit more better.”
• After hitting yesterday for the first time in nearly five months, Brett Gardner said his left wrist felt fine this morning. He actually asked trainer Steve Donohue to let him hit again today, but he was shot down (as he expected). “I tried to talk him into it,” Gardner said. “But he wasn’t feeling it.”
• Good indication for Mason Williams who’s back on the schedule for batting practice this afternoon. Yesterday, Williams hit on the field for the first time since last year’s shoulder surgery. Apparently all’s well, because he’s working out again today.
• After facing hitters yesterday, Jacob Lindgren feels strong and ready to show the Yankees what he can do this spring. He had just a brief big league cameo last season, and he hasn’t had much time to show the Yankees much sense then. He threw some bullpens late last year, but he had a regular offseason and is coming to camp 100 percent. “I feel like I’m coming back stronger and ready to compete,” Lindgren said. “… I threw my live BP for the first time yesterday and everything was coming out good. Everything is the same, so it feels great.” Lindgren made it clear that he’s just trying to do what he does without worrying about open roster spots.
• We finally have our first Ronald Torreyes sighting. The utility infielder arrived in camp a couple of days late because of visa issues, but here’s here today and scheduled to participate in the day’s workout. Torreyes is listed at 5-foot-10, but there’s no way that’s true. Closer to 5-8. Not a very big guy, but apparently he has some legitimate contact skills at the plate. Mostly a second baseman, but can play third and short.
• The past few days, pitchers have been throwing bullpens and sides before workouts. It happened today with a handful of guys, and it looks like it will happen again tomorrow with James Kaprielian, Masahiro Tanaka and Bryan Mitchell among those listed for early work. It suggests Tanaka will have to wait a bit longer to face hitters.
Aroldis Chapman (to Francisco Diaz)
Domingo German (to Sebastian Valle)
CC Sabathia (to Santiago Nessy)
Live batting practice
Looks like these pitchers will be facing full hitting groups
(probably Groups 1-4 on Field 1, Groups 5-8 on Field 2)
Michael Pineda (to Brian McCann)
Luis Severino (to Carlos Corporan)
Chasen Shreve (to Carlos Corporan)
Brady Lail (to Santiago Nessy)
Vinnie Pestano (to Sebastian Valle)
Luis Cessa (to Kyle Higashioka)
Andrew Miller (to Gary Sanchez)
Dellin Betances (Austin Romine
James Pazos (to Austin Romine)
Anthony Swarzak (to Francisco Diaz)
Kirby Yates (to Francisco Diaz)
Richard Bleier (to Eddy Rodriguez)
Tyler Cloyd (to Eddy Rodriguez)
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
Group 1: Carlos Beltran, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge, Kyle Higashioka
Group 2: Jacoby Ellsbury, Slade Heathcott, Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann
Group 3: Lane Adams, Ben Gamel, Mason Williams, Carlos Corporan
Group 4: Dustin Fowler, Cesar Puello, Santiago Nessy, Sebastian Valle
Group 5: Starlin Castro, Jorge Mateo, Rob Refsnyder, Eddy Rodriguez
Group 6: Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira, Gary Sanchez
Group 7: Dustin Ackley, Jonathan Diaz, Donovan Solano, Austin Romine
Group 8: Chris Parmelee, Deibinson Romero, Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Francisco Diaz
Associated Press photos