The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Thursday morning notes: “Going to take it slow because we can”

Brett Gardner, Dustin Pedroia

Last time the Yankees played a game, it was that October wild card showdown at Yankee Stadium. In the top of the second, Brett Gardner was playing center field when he went toward the gap in right-center to chase down an Evan Gattis fly ball. He made a leaping catch, slamming both his throwing hand and his glove hand into the wall.

Within a month, Gardner complained to the Yankees about soreness in his wrist, and tests revealed a bone bruise. That bruise has gotten better, but Gardner was told not to hit all offseason, and so he’ll get off to a slow start this spring. He’s not taking batting practice today. He only took dry swings over the winter, and he’s just now getting started with tee and toss.

“The season’s not upon us tomorrow,” Brian Cashman said. “We’ll start him out of the gate slow. (Told him), ‘Don’t swing all winter, and we’ll get you going.’ Just more of a safe route.”

Cashman couldn’t remember which wrist was injured — he initially said right wrist, then said he wasn’t sure, and it seems the injury is to the left wrist — but the important thing seems to be that it’s not the same wrist that was hurt last season. The fact Cashman wasn’t sure which wrist, he said, spoke to his level of concern.

He’s not worried about Gardner being ready for Opening Day. In fact, Cashman said it’s possible Gardner will be ready to play in games by the time the exhibition season starts in a week. For now, the Yankees are just taking it slow.

Is it strange that a bone bruise would linger this long?

“No,” Cashman said. “A lot of times the time frame for bone bruises on diagnostic testing to completely dissipate, you could be waiting a year. I know he feels good, but we’re just going to take it slow because we can.”

Robert Refsnyder• After discussing options yesterday, the Yankees have decided to test Rob Refsnyder at third base this spring. They’ll also go ahead with plans to try Starlin Castro at third. “We’re going to take a look at it,” Cashman said. “We’re going to take a look at all that, in conjunction with testing the temperature of the players at the same time to see what their feelings are toward it as well.”

• Today is the first day of infield practice, and individual positions aren’t assigned on the schedule. Refsnyder will be taking ground balls in a group with Castro and Didi Gregorius, but not in a group with Chase Headley.

Alex Rodriguez is not listed for any of the team’s fielding drills today. But on his way through the clubhouse today, he and Chasen Shreve exchanged a high five — well, more like a low five — that was pretty emphatic, like they were old friends. Probably says something about the way Rodriguez has integrated himself into the clubhouse, and also about the way Shreve is viewed as a legitimate part of the team and not necessarily a guy fighting for a spot.

• Here’s Cashman on Aroldis Chapman being once again absent from Yankees camp: “As I alluded to before, there was another date that (he) asked in advance, and that was today. An excused absence for personal reasons that, shortly after we acquired him they gave us some information about, there’s something he needs to attend to on this particular date. No problem.”

• After having shoulder surgery on August 7, Mason Williams has only recently started playing catch again, and today will be his first time hitting on the field (he’s been doing some hitting inside). A little more than six months have passed since the surgery, and Williams said he was told to expect an 8-10 month recovery. He does not expect to be ready to open the season, but he does feel good and sounds relatively encouraged.

• Speaking of injuries, Slade Heathcott was wearing an unusual shin guard that looked like some sort of ankle brace. I’d never seen one before. Asked about it, Heathcott laughed and explained it’s just shin guard, nothing medical. “I don’t get injured any more,” he said.

• Although he’s supposed to report today, Ronald Torreyes still has an empty locker and he’s not listed for any infield drills.

• Already today, Masahiro Tanaka has thrown a side. “So far so good,” Cashman said. “No issues, no complaints.” Tanaka threw to Gary Sanchez. He’s still not facing hitters.

Hideki Matsui is here.

Ivan Nova, Joe GirardiLive batting practice at Steinbrenner Field
Francisco Diaz and Santiago Nessy hitting

Ivan Nova (to Austin Romine)
Bryan Mitchell (to Carlos Corporan)
Diego Moreno (to Eddy Rodriguez)

Live batting practice at minor league complex
Catchers, when they aren’t behind the plate, will serve as hitters

Group 1
Tyler Olson (to Gary Sanchez)
Nick Rumbelow (to Francisco Diaz)
James Kaprielian (to Santiago Nessy)
Johnny Barbato (to Sebastian Valle)
Vicente Campos (to Kyle Higashioka)

Group 2
Jacob Lindgren (to Brian McCann)
Branden Pinder (to Brian McCann)
Nick Goody (to Austin Romine)
Tyler Webb (to Carlos Corporan)
Chad Green (to Eddy Rodriguez)

Infield drills
No position listed for individual players

Group 1
Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Jorge Mateo, Chris Parmelee, Rob Refsnyder, Deibinson Romero

Group 2
Dustin Ackley, Jonathan Diaz, Chase Headley, Donovan Solano, Mark Teixeira, Tyler Wade

Batting practice

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

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at 11:17 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Four things to know: Gardner, Refsnyder, Chapman, Williams

Brett Gardner

More on the way, but real quickly, here are four things you need to know from the Yankees clubhouse this morning:

1. Brett Gardner is not quite 100 percent right now
Because of a wrist bone bruise — not the same wrist that was hurt most of last season — Gardner will not take batting practice today and should get off to a slightly slower start than everyone else this spring. “Stagger him along out of the gate,” Brian Cashman said. Gardner hurt his wrist slamming into the outfield wall during the wild card game. The Yankees have monitored the injury this winter and say it’s much better, but spring training gives them time to move slowly. He could still play in the first exhibition game.

2. Rob Refsnyder will be tested at third base
After meeting with the coaching staff yesterday, Cashman said the Yankees will try Refsnyder at third base this spring. Refsnyder said he sees it as an indication that the Yankees trust him and believe he can help the big league team this season. It’s unclear just how much third base he’ll play, but it seems the Yankees see him as having the potential for more utility beyond second base.

3. Aroldis Chapman is not in camp today
The Yankees new closer is once again excused from camp for a personal issue. Cashman would not say why exactly Chapman isn’t here, but Billy Witz of the New York Times reports it’s a “citizenship matter” that has him away from the team. Cashman said the Yankees knew about this date a while back. They were not caught off guard.

4. Mason Williams expects to open on the disabled list
After shoulder surgery last season, Williams is going to take batting practice today, but he does not expect to be ready to open the season. He had surgery roughly six months ago, and the recovery time is expected to be eight to 10 months.

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at 10:31 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

The curious case of Rob Refsnyder

Robert Refsnyder

It’s been, what, 24 hours since Rob Refsnyder officially checked into spring training?

Already he’s been poked and prodded by the Yankees’ medical team, assigned a locker right next to the bathroom, and presumably discovered via Twitter — just moments after saying he’d never been told he might have to learn a new position – that the Yankees coaching staff is at least open to the idea of having him learn a new position.

And that’s only a few months after having his eye-opening stretch run in the big leagues followed almost immediately by the Yankees trading for a 25-year-old who immediately jumped ahead of him on the depth chart.

So what did Refsnyder have to say about his situation yesterday?

“It’s not disappointing,” he said. “If I work hard, put myself in a (good) position, I think something good will happen. Just looking forward to getting back at it.”

Rob Refsnyder, Hanley RamirezRefsnyder’s been down here in Tampa for weeks now working at the minor league complex with infield coach Joe Espada. He got married this offseason, so presumably there are things he’d rather be doing, but he’s been at the complex taking ground balls and rounds of batting practice, finding the bright side in what has to be an occasionally confusing and frustrating situation.

“I know at the end of last year during (early) September, I wasn’t playing at all,” he said. “So, I’m in a pretty good position now.”

And I think that’s really the way Refsnyder sees it. While others see a guy buried by an organization that’s not sure what to make of him, Refsnyder sees an open big league bench spot and a team that hasn’t let him go just yet.

Look, I don’t know how good of a baseball player Refsnyder is going to be when it’s all said and done. To me, he seems to play a perfectly fine second base, and he seems to hit enough to be maybe a big league regular or at least a part-timer. But that’s just the opinion of some guy in the press box. Off the field, I like Refsndyer quite a bit, but a good personality doesn’t make someone a good big league player.

And even though I think Refsnyder’s a good guy and a nice player, I still think it made sense for the Yankees to trade for Starlin Castro, because I think that’s a talent worth adding to the organization, and because player development is a lot more complicated than simply letting the Triple-A guy move up to the big leagues once his position is open.

I don’t believe the Yankees are intentionally screwing over Refsnyder or treating him with any sort of malice or cruelty. I think big league opportunities are hard to come by, and players have to take advantage of them. Refsnyder did that in a small window late last season, and that’s why he’s being talked about for a big league bench role this spring. To me, that’s fair.

This post is not meant to shed a tear for Refsnyder, or to argue that he’s getting the short-end of the stick.

This post is only meant to say that Refsnyder is going to be a fascinating player to watch this spring. He is under an unlikely microscope with a wide range of possibilities, and he seems to handle that position and that uncertainty with quiet poise.

How often does a candidate for the 25th spot on the roster do a group interview on the day position players report to camp? How often does a guy coming off a pretty good year in Triple-A, but certainly not great year, have a large chunk of the fan base arguing he already deserves an everyday job in New York? How often does a guy get buried on the depth chart by a three-time all-star in his mid-20s, then arrive in camp talking about opportunity and good things are right around the corner?

“I’m looking forward to it,” Refsnyder said “I just got done swinging, so if I just put myself in good positions and go about my business, I think something good will happen.”

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Thursday, February 25th, 2016 at 8:24 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees putting faith in Headley’s ability to bounce back

Yankees Rays BaseballIf the Yankees at all addressed their third base situation this offseason, it was through subtraction more than addition.

Brendan Ryan, who started the second-most games at third base last season, was traded away. Same for Jose Pirela, an offense-first utility man who saw quite a bit of Triple-A time at third last season. Also traded away was Eric Jagielo, the team’s top draft pick in 2013 and the system’s third base prospect closest to the Majors.

What they added were a few minor league free agents and Starlin Castro, who seems to be No. 2 on the third base depth chart despite having never played the position since rookie ball. Perhaps that’s why Joe Girardi today said he’s open to at least discussing the idea of Rob Refsnyder getting some time at third base.

“If something was to happen to Headley for two weeks, or a month, then you have to have a plan,” Girardi said.

But that’s only if something happens to Chase Headley. For now, the third base job is still Headley’s, even after the worst season of his career during which he set a career-low for OPS and a career-high for errors. The fact the Yankees hardly addressed third base could be seen as a vote of confidence.

“Just talking from the coaches to the front office, I think they understand that last year was hopefully an outlier,” Headley said. “Certainly, again, we’re not passing it off and saying it’s nothing, but on the same token, we don’t expect it to happen again. I felt that way even when I was going through it. I felt like they kept confidence in me, and they were positive about it. I didn’t look at any moves they made this offseason as a vote of confidence, but maybe it is. Just the way that they handled it last year and we handled it together, led me to believe that they still thought I could do the job.”

The Yankees have some contingency plans — Castro is an interesting possibility, guys like Donvano Solano and Pete Kozma have played the position in the big leagues — but they have no true Plan B. There’s no go-to option to compete for the job this spring. The Yankees are committed to three more years of Headley, and they’re committed to the idea that he can and will be better than last year.

Headley said he didn’t really change anything about his offseason workouts, but he does plan to focus on his defensive footwork this spring (he and Girardi each pointed to mechanics, and footing in particular, as an explanation for his throwing problems). Girardi said he did not believe Headley ever really had the “yips” when he was throwing to first. Headley basically agreed, but admitted that it was draining to his confidence to keep making such mistakes.

“When things are going well it’s easy to be confident, easy to just kind of let things happen,” Headley said. “When things aren’t going well our natural instinct is to try to correct it and try to focus even more. Sometimes that’s not the way to fix it. I wouldn’t say I was overly mental about it, but certainly when you’re playing well and you’re confident, it’s a lot easier to be better on the mental side of it.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 8:11 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Wednesday workout notes: Jacoby Ellsbury feels back to 100 percent

Andrew Miller

The Yankees are scheduled to have their first full-squad workout tomorrow. Today was pretty quiet. It would have been quiet even on a sunny day, but it was especially quiet after all of the rain that hit Tampa this morning. Not a lot going on a Steinbrenner Field today, but here are a few notes from this Wednesday in Yankees camp:

Jacoby Ellsbury, Joe GirardiEllsbury says nothing to discuss about wild card benching

Last time we saw Jacoby Ellsbury, it was the wild card game and Ellsbury was on the bench. The reasoning and logic behind the decision was pretty easy to understand — Chris Young was definitely going to play against a lefty, which left Joe Girardi to choose only one of Ellsbury and Brett Gardner — but it was still pretty stunning to see such a big name left out of the lineup in a must-win game. How did Ellsbury feel about it then, and how does he feel about it now?

“I talked to Joe that day,” Ellsbury said. “I talked to him on the field, and he knows how bad I want to play, and he knows how much time I put into playing to be the player that I am. We left it at that. Nothing needs to be said.”

After a knee injury in May, at a time when he was putting up huge numbers, Ellsbury never was the same when he returned from the disabled list.

“Obviously I knew my team needed me to play. When I came back, you convince yourself that you’re 100 percent, you’re ready to go. I thought I was pretty close, but it wasn’t until the offseason — when I started working out, training, getting back — (it became clear) maybe I wasn’t where I thought I was. But you don’t have time for that during the season to wait to get there. I tried to get back as soon as I could, but it wasn’t really until the offseason when I started working out, training that (things got back to normal). Now I feel 100 percent.”

Determining Teixeira’s playing time

Obviously Mark Teixeira is locked in as the Yankees’ starting first baseman, but Girardi has acknowledged a need to give Teixeira — and the other lineup regulars in their 30s — considerable days off this season. It’s an attempt to keep them both healthy and rested. But often does Teixeira need to rest? How often are we really going to see Dustin Ackley at first base this year?

“I think a lot of it depends on Tex and how he feels and what our schedule is like and the type of games that we have,” Girardi said. “I don’t have an exact number because you have to also look at the schedule early on. A lot of times you have built in days off for players so you don’t need to use them as much, and then you get into streaks where you play 35 out of 40 days and you start thinking, a guy like Tex could probably use four days off in that period, that sort of thing. So a lot of it depends on the schedule, too.”

Alex RodriguezA-Rod arrives; will speak to media tomorrow

Although he was walking around the clubhouse this afternoon, Alex Rodriguez will not address the media until tomorrow afternoon. His arrival isn’t nearly the same sort of story it was last season, but he’s also the most well-known player on the team, so he’s of course going to generate a lot of attention.

“He’s probably a little bit more relaxed in a sense knowing he doesn’t have to go through a gauntlet of questions on the first day,” Girardi said. “But he’s doing what he loves to do, and he’s back. There’s not all the questions he had to answer last year. He looked really relaxed (today). Looked good too.”

Late to the party

Only one Yankees player has not reported to camp and that’s utility infielder Ronald Torreyes. That’s the same guy who was traded to the Yankees, then lost on waivers, then claimed back off waivers.

Girardi said it was a visa issue that kept Torreyes from reporting today. He’s expected to be here tomorrow. Everyone else has arrived on time as expected.

Sleeping in

After doing this to some extent last spring as well, the Yankees are starting their workouts in the late morning this spring training. Most teams get started around 8 or 9 a.m., but Girardi wanted to let his players sleep in. He also wanted to give the field a little more time to dry to avoid fielders running around on wet grass.

“We just felt it made a lot of sense for a couple reasons that I mentioned, sleep and early work,” Girardi said. “So they’re not doing early work at 7:30, 8 in the morning. Whether you’re a pitcher throwing a bullpen, I mean, that’s just not normal (at that time). And if you’re an infielder trying to do work on the back fields, they’re soaking wet (early in the morning), and that didn’t make sense. So we just felt, while we can do it — once the games start, it’s really hard to do – let’s do it and it works out well.”

Yankees meet with StubHub

Given significant controversy about their new ticketing policy, the Yankees today released this statement from team president Randy Levine:

“I met today with Scott Cutler, President of StubHub, and we had a good and productive meeting. It lasted about an hour and we agreed to continue talking. There is nothing to announce at this current moment, but we will update everyone when we have news.”

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 4:37 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Yankees to discuss testing Rob Refsnyder at third base this spring

Robert Refsnyder

When he arrived at Steinbrenner Field this morning, Rob Refsnyder was a second baseman and only a second baseman.

By the end of the day, that might not be the case.

The Yankees coaching staff plans to meet this afternoon to discuss spring training playing time for everyone on the roster, and Joe Girardi left wide open the possibility of Refsnyder playing a few different positions — specifically third base, maybe the outfield — to test his versatility. It’s not a sure thing that Refsnyder will be tested at other spots, but Girardi said the idea that will be on the table.

Refsnyder“He’ll probably be talked about as much as anyone in that meeting,” Girardi said. “There are certain guys you’re going right over because we know exactly where they’re playing. … It’s a young man who did a pretty decent job last year when we called him up and he played at the end of the year, So Castro is going to be, in a sense, projected your everyday second baseman. How do you present opportunities to players you feel could help us in some way? And those are the things we have to talk about.”

This offseason, Brian Cashman largely dismissed the idea of Refsnyder playing third.

“Right now our focus is still for him at second,” Cashman said in early January. “But I’ll always leave the door open for us to adjust as we move forward. But, for now, we have not had any of those conversations to move him off second.”

Refsnyder has been in Tampa for weeks working at second base with Dustin Ackley and infield coach Joe Espada. He plans to keep working at second base until told otherwise.

“I haven’t heard anything new, to be honest,” Refsnyder said. “So I’m just kind of doing what I did last year and working with the same people and kind of going about the same routine. … If something changes, I’m sure you guys will be the first ones to know.”

Would Refsnyder be open to playing third?

“Shoot, I’m up for anything,” he said. “I was playing right field in college a couple of years ago, so I’m not going to rule anything out. I’m optimistic and kind of open for anything. Kind of go from there.”

It’s worth noting, of course, that the Yankees have been somewhat slow to trust Refsnyder defensively at second base, which raises a question of just how long it might take for them to trust him at third. The Yankees have already said that Castro will be tested at third base this spring, so it could be that Refsnyder adds the most versatility simply by playing second base on the days Castro is handling the left side of the infield.

“I think you have to look at everything a little bit,” Girardi said. “Just because, if something was to happen to (Chase) Headley for two weeks, or a month, then you have to have a plan. … I think it comes down to the player being comfortable, feeling that the player can do it, that sort of thing.”

Associated Press photo

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 1:42 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Wednesday morning notes: Teixeira hopes to play five more years

Orioles Yankees Baseball

This may very well be Mark Teixeira‘s final spring training with the Yankees, but he made it clear this morning that he does not expect this to be his last spring training, period.

“I’d love to play five more years,” Teixeira said. “I’d love to play until I’m 40. If you had asked me that when I was coming off wrist surgery, I was pretty honest with you guys (saying) I felt like crap pretty much the entire year in 2014. I didn’t know what the future held for me, but I’ve completely turned that around. My body feels so good, why not play until I’m 40? Being the kind of hitter I am, I can be a DH the last few years of my career, which could really prolong it. I would love to play that long.”

A month ago, I thought there was absolutely no chance Teixeira would be back with the Yankees next year, but the injury to Greg Bird might open at least some chance of a return. Really hard to know what to expect. I doubt the Yankees want to clog the first base and DH position, but Bird missing 2016 does make it a little harder to count on him for 2017.

And Teixeira is certainly open to coming back.

“Absolutely,” he said. “That’s probably the easiest question you could ask me. I’d love to stay here, but we’ll see what happens at the end of the year. … Great thing about contract years is if you do your job on the field for your team, the contract works out for you, that kind of stuff falls into place if you go out and have a good year and help your team.”

Even after last year’s late-season leg injury, Teixeira said he went through a pretty normal offseason, including the same “no-fun diet” that he implemented last winter. He also stuck to the same training routine he had last offseason, just trying to maintain the power production he had in 2015.

The trick is simply staying on the field.

“I look at the first 10 years of my career and I think I averaged 150 games a year,” Teixeira said. “You can’t ask for anything more. The last few years have been a little difficult, but the wrist is behind me. The rest of my body feel great. Last year was a freak thing and hopefully those kind of freak things don’t happen anymore.”

Rain• This was scheduled to be a pretty light day in Yankees’ camp anyway — two guys facing hitters, a handful of pitchers throwing side sessions — but the rain has really wiped out any chance of doing much on the field. Guys are playing catch in the outfield, but I don’t think there will be a real workout out there. Mark Montgomery and Kyle Haynes were the only pitchers scheduled to face hitters.

• Still at the top of the depth chart — without a proven backup on the roster — Chase Headley has arrived in camp determined to prove he’s not the player he was last season, especially on defense. “I think I’m a lot closer to the player I’ve been for the majority of my career than I was last year,” he said. “But on the same token, I don’t take it for granted. We’ve looked at some film and I think for me it all starts with a base, trying to have good footwork. We’ll try to focus on that in spring training. I’m certainly not panicked about it. It’s an area that I was extremely disappointed with last year. We’ll try to do better this year.”

• The arrival of position players always brings a little more life to the clubhouse. One heated topic of conversation today: Just how ugly are Brett Gardner‘s new neon yellow shoes? I kind of like them. Gardner definitely likes them. Headley is on the fence. Brian McCann is not a fan. At all.

• After missing much of last season with a shoulder injury that wound up being much more serious than initially expected, Mason Williams began throwing again a couple of weeks ago. He said he’s also hitting and feels perfectly healthy. Not sure yet whether Williams will be playing in the early spring training games, but it sounds like he’s basically doing full drills at this point.

• You know what wrecks a tough-guy image? A finger injury. Lefty Tyler Webb learned that lesson last season when he missed basically half of the season all because of a tiny tendon issue in the index finger of his pitching hand. He was told it was a rare injury that rock climbers get from time to time (and occasionally baseball players, obviously). If he weren’t a baseball player, it would have been a total non-issue, but the injury kept him from throwing with any kind of force. A cortisone shot — in his finger! — helped resolve the issue, and Webb wound up having a normal offseason. He’s back to 100 percent, but said it was pretty embarrassing last season to have to tell his friends that he was on the DL because his finger hurt.

• As far as I could tell, there was only one locker that seemed to be still relatively empty this morning. It didn’t look like Ronald Torreyes had settled into the clubhouse, but otherwise, it seemed everyone was present and accounted for. Could be that Torreyes is here, but his locker definitely doesn’t have all of his stuff in it yet. Of course, it’s entirely possible Torreyes can’t remember which team he actually wound up with.

• The schedule for tomorrow indicates that several pitchers — headlined, I guess, by James Kaprielian and Jacob Lindgren — will go to the minor league complex to throw live batting practice. I assume the Yankees don’t want their position players facing live pitchers yet, but they need the fields here to let the position players take regular BP. Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Bryan Mitchell and Diego Moreno are all scheduled for early work tomorrow, which presumably means standard bullpens.

TanakaMorning sides

Nathan Eovaldi (to Carlos Corporan)
Michael Pineda (to Brian McCann)
Luis Severino (to Austin Romine)
Brady Lail (to Santiago Nessy)
Anthony Swarzak (to Sebastian Valle)

Live batting practice
Facing Carlos Corporan and Kyle Higashioka

Mark Montgomery (to Eddy Rodriguez)
Kyle Haynes (to Francisco Diaz)

Batting practice

Group 1
Carlos Corporan
Brian McCann
Austin Romine
Gary Sanchez

Group 2
Francisco Diaz
Kyle Higashioka
Santiago Nessy
Eddy Rodriguez
Sebastian Valle

Associated Press photos

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 12:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

As position players report: Is this team better than five months ago?

Blue Jays Yankees Baseball

Spring training might have opened almost a week ago, but today is when the who team really shows up. Position players finally report to camp this morning, and the first full-squad workout is tomorrow. It made me think of one of Joe Girardi’s answers from his opening press conference. Girardi was asked whether the current Yankees are better than the group that ended last season. Broken into parts, the words in bold were his answer:

SeverinoTeixeira“I think so. I think on paper we are better. Paper doesn’t really mean anything until you go out and compete, but…”

From the key group that ended last season, the Yankees have lost Adam Warren, John Ryan Murphy, Justin Wilson, Stephen Drew, Chris Young and Brendan Ryan. They’ve also lost Greg Bird to injury, and they’ve lost some immediate depth in Chase Whitley, Caleb Cotham and Jose Pirela.

The Yankees have added Starlin Castro, Aroldis Chapman, and Aaron Hicks. They’ve also added potential role players like Carlos Corporan, Pete Kozma, Vinnie Pestano and Lane Adams. More importantly, they have brought Mark Teixeira, Jacob Lindgren and Mason Williams back from the disabled list, in theory gotten Nathan Eovaldi healthy again, and given themselves a full season of Dustin Ackley, Luis Severino and potentially Gary Sanchez.

Also, the Yankees surely believe the current versions of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner won’t be as bad as they were in the final two months of last season.

So, are the current Yankees better than they were at the end of 2015? On paper, sure, I think you can at least make that case (but even that paper is pretty old and frayed and could be heading for the disabled list).

Castro“We added Castro who gives us an everyday second baseman who’s been productive in his career. He’s a young man that has almost 1,000 hits, and he’s 25 years old, can move to shortstop very easily when we want to give Didi a day off. I think that fits well…”

If the Starlin Castro trade works out, it could be a real difference maker. The Yankees needed some right-handed balance, and Castro should provide that. He also could be a pretty decent defender up the middle. And he’s a part of a long-term plan, which is a definite upgrade over the second base place holders of the past two seasons.

But every time the Yankees talk about Castro, his potential for versatility seems to come into play. That’s a big part of his roster spot. If he can serve as the starting second baseman while also giving the Yankees depth at third base and shortstop, it adds some much-needed flexibility while adding some depth that simply didn’t exist on the left side of the infield.

Castro doesn’t have to carry a heavy load offensively, but he could be a key part of bringing balance and length to the lineup, while also providing some freedom to more readily manipulate the lineup to rest other everyday players and utilize more on-the-verge prospects.

Hicks“We added another switch hitter in an outfielder, which gives us more of an opportunity to maybe rest our two left-handers out there against left handers more often, in a sense…”

As a pure platoon player, Young was tremendous last season. He had one bad month, but he otherwise hit for average and power against lefties, which was a specific skill set that the Yankees desperately needed (especially after Teixeira broke his leg). But he was basically useless against right-handed pitchers.

Last season, Aaron Hicks came fairly close to matching Young’s production against lefties, but he’s also a switch hitter with the potential to be more of a factor against righties. Can’t necessarily bank on it, but that potential is there (and he’s a better defender than Young). If Hicks still can’t hit righties this season, the Yankees have no shortage of left-handed outfielders who can help fill that void, but Hicks’ potential as a switch hitter is again key to keeping the Yankees everyday players rested while adding some insurance.

It’s interesting that both Castro and Hicks — the Yankees key position player additions — each have some importance tied to their ability to keep other players rested. The idea of Hicks being more than a platoon hitter and Castro being more than a second baseman intrigues the Yankees and makes it easier to keep their older players rested and productive. At least, on paper that’s true.

PinderChapman“I think we’re deeper. I think adding Chapman to that bullpen mix — our bullpen, that final three, were really really good, but I think it has a chance to be even better obviously. We weren’t really sure what he other four spots were in the bullpen going into last year, last spring, like this spring, but I think there’s kids with a lot more experience and there’s guys that we acquired that have experience — whether it’s a Yates or a Swarzak — that can really help us. I think there’s more depth…”

Chapman is better than Wilson. That said, Wilson was so good last year — and the Yankees, as a whole, were so good at maintaining late-inning leads — that I think it’s debatable whether Chapman-instead-of-Wilson makes the Yankees significantly better than last season. Chapman is an upgrade, but how many wins is that upgrade worth? Avoiding another month-long injury to Andrew Miller might be just as important.

Bottom line is, the bullpen was a strength at the end of last season, and it looks like a definite strength heading into this spring training. The important thing is keeping those Big Three from being overworked, which might mean finding another group of relievers who can be trusted in relatively big situations (or at least, a reliever or two trusted enough that Girardi doesn’t feel the need to bring a big arm into a game that’s only slightly unraveling).

It sometimes takes young relievers a little bit of time to really get their footing and prove their staying power. Look at the development of Betances and Miller as two extreme examples, but also the fairly slow big league emergence of Dave Robertson and Mark Melancon — who were not standout, closer material in the beginning — and the recent, somewhat unexpected contributions of Chasen Shreve and Shawn Kelley.

Those three guys at the back end of the bullpen could be dominant, but the emergence of Nick Rumbelow or James Pazos or Nick Goody or Jacob Lindgren would be a big help to this team.

HeathcottJudge“I think our kids in the minor league system have gotten a taste of what it’s like to be up here and have performed pretty well, and I think other guys are closer, and that’s why I think we’re better.”

The Yankees farm system sent a significant wave of prospects to the Major League roster last year. It wasn’t only Severino and Bird — though those were certainly the standouts — it was also Pinder and Heathcott and Pazos and Williams and Rumbelow and Refsnyder. This spring, Sanchez is competing for a job, and Lindgren is trying to get back in the picture, and Aaron Judge is trying prove he’ll be ready whenever a spot opens up.

Gone are the days when the Yankees look first to the free agent market, and so as they go into a season with significant healthy and durability issues, the importance of the farm system really does rise to the top. If players and when players get hurt, the Yankees will look internally to fill the holes. That’s a huge responsibility, and it should be a real difference maker at some point.

The farm system was ready to help last year, and it seems just as prepared to help this year (though one weakness is upper-level rotation depth, which is obviously a glaring hole given the big league rotation concerns).

Associated Press photo

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Wednesday, February 24th, 2016 at 8:00 am. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Position players on the way: A look at the early Yankees depth chart

Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner

The Yankees announced this afternoon that Chris Parmelee has officially joined the organization on a minor league deal. He’ll be among the non-roster position players reporting to big league camp in the morning, and his ultimate destination is probably Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he’s currently at the top of the depth chart at first base, essentially replacing Greg Bird.

Here’s a rough look at the Yankees big league depth chart — as I see it, anyway — for the players reporting for physicals in the morning. Obviously Alex Rodriguez is reporting tomorrow, but he’s a depth chart of his own at designated hitter. Here are the others who will be officially arriving on Wednesday.

TeixeiraFirst basemen
1. Mark Teixeira
2. Dustin Ackley
3. Chris Parmelee
Can play the position: Austin Romine, Deibinson Romero, Chase Headley

Technically, Greg Bird will also report tomorrow, but he’s off the depth chart at the moment because of his shoulder injury. As for the existing depth chart, it’s easiest to think of Ackley primarily as a second baseman or outfielder, but with the Yankees, it seems he could get a lot of time at first base. Sure, he’ll surely play some second base and some outfield this year, but the Yankees have existing depth at those positions. Ackley’s importance at first base has increased considerably in the wake of Bird’s injury.

CastroSecond basemen
1. Starlin Castro
2. Rob Refsnyder
3. Dustin Ackley
4. Ronald Torreyes
5. Donovan Solano
Can play the position: Pete Kozma, Jonathan Diaz, Tyler Wade

There’s a decent amount of depth at second base, where the Yankees have six different players who have big league experience at the position. Castro is obviously the projected starter, but the Yankees could also use him as their backup at shortstop and third base, which leaves significant playing time available for guys like Refsnyder, Ackley and some of the utility types. Will be interesting to see whether Refsnyder or Ackley looks more like the No. 2 everyday option at the position.

HeadleyThird basemen
1. Chase Headley
2. Starlin Castro
3. Deibinson Romero
4. Donovan Solano
5. Pete Kozma
Can play the position: Jonathan Diaz, Ronald Torreyes

This is a best-case scenario depth chart that assumes Castro can handle third base, despite having not played the position since rookie ball. If Castro can’t play third well enough to back up Headley, then the Yankees will have to sort through a bunch of utility types who have primarily played either second base or shortstop. Other than Headley, Romero is the only player coming to camp who’s primary position is third base. He’s been a pretty good Triple-A hitter. Could he be another Zelous Wheeler type?

GregoriusShortstop
1. Didi Gregorius
2. Starlin Castro
3. Pete Kozma
4. Jonathan Diaz
Can play the position: Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade, Jorge Mateo

Clearly Gregorius is the everyday shortstop, and Castro is the most proven everyday option to fill the spot should Gregorius get hurt or need a day off. Beyond those two, the Yankees have Kozma and Diaz, a pair of high-end defenders with big league experience (Kozma, in particular, has quite a bit of big league experienced with the Cardinals). Those two seem best suited to fill the depth chart beyond Castro or to play a glove-first utility role. Torreyes is on the 40-man, and can also play short. Wade and Mateo are obviously highly touted prospects, but they’re not necessarily on the big league radar just yet. They’ll see shortstop playing time this spring, but they’re not realistic a part of the immediate depth chart at the position.

EllsburyCenter field
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Aaron Hicks
3. Brett Gardner
4. Mason Williams
5. Slade Heathcott
6. Lane Adams
Can play the position: Ben Gamel, Dustin Ackley, Dustin Fowler

The Yankees have plenty of guys fully capable of playing center field and playing it well. Ellsbury is obviously at the top of the depth chart, but Hicks is also a strong defender, Gardner is a known quantity, Williams and Heathcott proved they could handle center last season, and Adams is also consider a good glove man at the position. There are others in camp who can play center field — and a guy like Fowler will surely get some time there — but the Yankees have too many options to imagine they’ll have to dig beyond those top six to play center.

GardnerLeft field
1. Brett Gardner
2. Aaron Hicks
3. Ben Gamel
4. Slade Heathcott
5. Dustin Ackley
Can play the position: Mason Williams, Lane Adams, Dustin Fowler, Donovan Solano

Pretty similar to center field in that plenty of guys play the position and have played the position. Beyond Gardner and Hicks, it’s actually tough to come up with a definitive left field depth chart. I’ll put Ackley in the top five only because that might be his best fit if he’s going to get some occasional outfield time this season. Really, though, the Yankees can just pick and choose from their outfield depth to handle left or a fourth outfielder role if necessary.

BeltranRight field
1. Carlos Beltran
2. Aaron Hicks
3. Aaron Judge
4. Slade Heathcott
5. Cesar Puello
Can play the position: Mason Williams, Lane Adams, Dustin Ackley, Chris Parmelee

Again, there are a lot of mix-and-match possibilities in right field, but obviously Judge is an interesting possibility that’s unique to right field. He can play the other outfield spots if necessary — and maybe the Yankees will want to see him in left and center this spring, just in case — but he’s really seen the vast majority of his time in right. Puello has also been mostly a right fielder. Although Parmelee was signed to play first, he’s started 95 Major League games in right.

Associated Press photos

 
 

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Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 at 9:00 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Video: CC Sabathia throws a bullpen in Yankees camp

Taboola Home/Section Front Player


Pitching with a new knee brace and what seems to be renewed confidence, CC Sabathia is back in Yankees camp trying to prove he can be a dependable starting pitcher even at this stage of his career after a handful of injuries and three consecutive disappointing seasons. For some sense of how Sabathia looks, here’s video of Sabathia throwing a bullpen this morning at Steinbrenner Field.

 
 

Posted by:Chad Jenningson Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016 at 6:28 pm. InMisc with Comments Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post


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