Barring a trade, injury or something unforeseen, the Yankees basically have their 13 position players in place. They’re trying to settle on one of two backup catchers, but Joe Girardi’s made it clear that there’s not a ton of open competition for bench roles or everyday lineup spots.
Surely that’s frustrating for a guy like Jose Pirela, who’s done everything right this spring. He’s made the road trips, played multiple positions, and hit .370/.433/.630. He’s put himself as close to a roster spot as he could possibly be without having one locked up.
“They give me a lot of opportunities, and I’ve been happy for the opportunity they give me to play,” Pirela said. “I feel happy for that.”
But surely Pirela sees a guy like Brendan Ryan ahead of him on the depth chart and feels ignored.
“No, no, no,” Pirela said. “I’ve just been around those guys and learn the most I can to be like the way they play. And I’m good for that.”
It seems worth remembering that Pirela signed as an amateur free agent way back in 2006. At the time he was a 16-year-old kid out of Venezuela. He was in his seventh full season of pro ball before he even got a taste of Triple-A, and he was in his eighth season before he was even remotely on the big league radar.
No opportunity this spring? That’s clearly not the way Pirela sees it. He knows what it’s like to have no chance, and this isn’t it.
“Every year I’m a more veteran player, and the more I play, the more I learn,” he said. “That’s helped me a lot. All around. … Everybody on the team has an opportunity to play in the majors. If I make the team or not, I keep working hard to be on the team whenever they need me.”
• CC Sabathia is making the trip to Port St. Lucie tomorrow, which seems like an unusually long trip for a veteran like Sabathia. He said the idea is to let him get into a competitive situation since he missed so much time last season. Might have stayed back to pitch a simulated game most springs, but this year Sabathia’s happy to get the game action.
• Baseball America’s latest minor league transactions include a bunch of released Yankees minor leaguers: RHP Cristofer Cabrera, RHP Dayton Dawe, RHP Alex Polanco, RHP David Rodriguez, RHP Hayden Sharp, LHP Hector Martinez, LHP Abel Mora, 1B Mat Gamel, 1B R.J. Johnson, 1B Bubba Jones, 2B Jake Anderson, 2B Casey Stevenson, OF Anderson Feliz, OF Daniel Lopez
• On that list, the name that stands out to me is Anderson Feliz, who once seemed to have legitimate promise as a switch-hitting second baseman or utility man, but he couldn’t stay healthy enough to gain any traction.
• Other notables among the released: Gamel is the veteran who signed just a few days ago in an attempt to come back from multiple injuries. … Anderson and Jones are each former seventh-rounders who never hit much. … Stevenson got to Triple-A last year, but was basically serving as a kind of organizational utility man, filling holes wherever necessary. …Johnson is a former pitcher who the Yankees were trying out as a hitter last season. … None of the pitchers had ever advanced beyond the extremely low levels.
• New Joe Girardi nickname: Today the manager saw his starting catcher and asked: “How’s it going Mac Attack?” So, yeah.
• Nathan Eovaldi, Esmil Rogers, Bryan Mitchell and Kyle Davies are throwing bullpens today.
• Speaking of Mitchell, he’s making the trip to face the Nationals on Monday. The Yankees haven’t announced a starter for that day, but it seems a smart bet that Mitchell will get the ball that day. Davies is also on that trip, but Girardi has said he wants to give Mitchell another start, so I’m guessing that will happen on Monday.
• These next two days, the Yankees play back-to-back road games in Port St. Lucie (on Sunday) and Viera (on Monday). Those are pretty long trips to the east side of the state, so the Yankees are spending the night on the road. A handful of players will be there for each game. There will also be a large group going to Port St. Lucie on Sunday morning and returning on Sunday night, then another group will skip Port St. Lucie and will meet the team in Viera. Basically, most big league guys don’t have to spend the night on the road.
• Today’s second string: C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Cole Figueroa, 3B Nick Noonan, LF Tyler Austin, CF Jake Cave, RF Aaron Judge, DH John Ryan Murphy
• Today’s scheduled relievers: Justin Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Andrew Miller, Jacob Lindgren, Nick Rumbelow
• Travel squads for Sunday and Monday:
SUNDAY in Port St. Lucie
Pitchers: Scott Baker, Jacob Lindgren, Chris Martin, Jose Ramirez, Nick Rumbelow, CC Sabathia Chasen Shreve
Catchers: Francisco Arcia, Kyle Higashioka, John Ryan Murphy, Eddy Rodriguez, Austin Romine
Infielders: Stephen Drew, Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Garrett Jones, Nick Noonan, Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder, Brendan Ryan, Mark Teixeira
Outfielders: Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott
Up from minor league camp: RHP Nick Goody, LHP Tyler Webb, INF Dan Fiorito, OF Tyler Austin, OF Aaron Judge
Players returning that night: Baker, Martin, Sabathia, Drew, Gregorius, Headley, Teixeira, Goody, Webb
MONDAY in Viera
Pitchers: Danny Burawa, Kyle Davies, Bryan Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren, Jose ramirez, Nick Rumbelow, Chasen Shreve
Catchers: Brian McCann, Francisco Arcia, Kyle Higashioka, John Ryan Murphy, Eddy Rodriguez, Austin Romine
Infielders: Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Garrett Jones, Nick Noonan, Jose Pirela, Rob Refsnyder, Brendan Ryan
Outfielders: Brett Gardner Chris Young, Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott
Up from minor league camp: RHP Brandon Pinder, RHP Kyle Haynes, RHP Cesar Vargas, LHP Fred Lewis, OF Tyler Austin, OF Aaron Judge
Associated Press photos