Austin Romine’s never come to spring training as a favorite. He’s competed for a job many times, had a chance to open plenty of eyes, but there’s always been someone ahead of him on the projected depth chart whether it was Chris Stewart or Francisco Cervelli or — this year — John Ryan Murphy.
How do we know Murphy was ahead of Romine coming into this spring? Because the Yankees left no doubt last season. Romine got a long look in 2013, but it was Murphy who got the extended opportunity in 2014. Romine got a couple cups of coffee last year, that’s it. He didn’t even get a September call-up when the roster first expanded.
“Last year was tough at the beginning,” Romine said. “It was tough to be, I don’t want to say forgotten. Not forgotten. Just, it’s a business. Stuff happens. Moves get made. You can’t blame people for that. It was tough in the beginning, but once I kind of settled in an figured out, I still have to play good baseball wherever I am. That’s basically what I told myself every day. It was rough for a little while, but I kind of got over it. I got my head down and I started working again.”
This spring, Romine came into camp recognizing it for what it is. It’s another opportunity, perhaps his last in this organization. Murphy might be the favorite, but Romine spent his winter at an intense training facility in California. He said he threw up after the first eight workouts. He ultimately lost 10 pounds, came to camp lean and strong.
He showed up to prove himself. He gets the start behind the plate today, which is another opportunity to do that.
“Everybody says they’re in the best shape ever when they come into spring training,” Romine said. “But I literally was. I wanted to be able to go into the office when they call me — if I’m going up or going down — and know that I gave it everything I had, because they deserve it. They’ve given me a lot, and I want to be the backup catcher to give back to them. They’ve put me in a position to be where I am in my life, so I feel like I owe it to them to give it everything I have.”
Neither Romine nor Murphy has had a particularly good spring at the plate. Murphy’s gotten going a little bit lately, but he still has just a .492 OPS. Romine has a .477. Romine is out of options. Murphy is not. Brian Cashman has said that’s a factor that could play into the decision of who wins the job. In a way, that gives Romine an advantage, if he can only show he’s worth another opportunity.
“I came in here with a plan,” Romine said. “And I’ve put myself in a good position to achieve that plan. I just keep my head down, and I keep working, and I get down what I need to get done. Hopefully I make this team. … I have no idea, no idea (what’s going to happen). Murph doesn’t either. No one does. We just keep playing. They’ll figure it out. That’s their job, so we just keep playing.”
• A reminder that CC Sabathia is pitching in a minor league game today while Scott Baker starts the big league game against Baltimore. Bryan Mitchell, who was originally scheduled to start against the Orioles, said he’s also going to pitch at the minor league complex.
• Tomorrow’s travel squad includes Esmil Rogers, who’s clearly making the trip to pitch out of the bullpen. That seems to be yet another sign that Adam Warren has won the fifth-starter job.
• It will be interesting to see how the long relief role plays out. Obviously Rogers is stretched out and could be one long man, but given the rotation concerns, the Yankees surely want another guy who’s capable of multiple innings. Baker and Chase Whitley are — in my opinion — the top candidates for that job ahead of Mitchell, who makes more sense as Triple-A rotation depth. While Baker is getting a chance to start today, Whitley is on the travel squad for tomorrow, obviously scheduled to pitch an inning or two of relief.
• Ivan Nova has now thrown four bullpens that have included breaking balls. He said his arm still feels great. He’s happy and encouraged by the way his Tommy John rehab has gone. All positive so far.
• Masahiro Tanaka and Adam Warren each threw a side today.
• Today’s scheduled relievers: Justin Wilson, Andrew Bailey, Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren, Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller (with Nick Rumbelow, Danny Burawa, Diego Moreno and Tyler Webb listed as available just in case)
• Tomorrow’s travel squad to Kissimmee:
Pitchers: Danny Burawa, Nathan Eovaldi, Jacob Lindgren, Jose Ramirez, Esmil Rogers, Nick Rumbelow, Chasen Shreve, Chase Whitley
Catchers: Francisco Arcia, Kyle Higashioka, John Ryan Murphy, Eddy Rodriguez, Austin Romine
Infielders: Stephen Drew, Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Nick Noonan, Rob Refsnyder, Alex Rodriguez, Brendan Ryan
Outfielders: Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott
From minor league camp: RHP Cesar Vargas, RHP Nick Goody, LHP Fred Lewis, INF Dan Fiorito, OF Ben Gamel, OF Aaron Judge, OF Michael O’Neill
Associated Press photos
Scott Baker was scheduled to pitch multiple innings of long relief this afternoon, but the game was called in the sixth, and so the Yankees will instead have Baker start tomorrow’s game against Baltimore.
CC Sabathia will pitch in a minor league game tomorrow.
“We wanted (Baker) to go long,” Girardi said. “I called him in before that (last) inning and I said, ‘We’re going to wait, because we don’t want you to go just an inning or a half an inning and all of a sudden it starts pouring and they call the game.’ So he’ll start tomorrow.”
The original plan was to have Bryan Mitchell start tomorrow’s big league game. The Yankees don’t want Sabathia to do it because they’re facing the Orioles, and the Yankees would prefer to keep Sabathia out of a game against a division rival. Prioritizing Baker could be a sign that he’s still heavily in the mix for a long relief role.
After a rough spring debut, Baker pitched well against the Mets on Sunday (4.1 innings, one hit, no walks). It’s at least a little curious that the Yankees let Chase Whitley — another long relief candidate — pitch just one inning last time out but preferred to make sure Baker gets a multiple-inning appearance.
Would it make sense to carry Baker as a long man out of camp, while sending both Whitley and Mitchell to Triple-A to stay stretched out as rotation depth (making them potential candidates for spot starts whenever the Yankees want or need a sixth starter)? Opening a 40-man spot for Baker shouldn’t be tough, especially with Ivan Nova and possibly Chris Capuano being obvious 60-day disabled list candidates.
Associated Press photo
The Yankees have one starting pitcher with a torn elbow ligament, another with a surgically repaired knee, and another who’s dealt with shoulder issues for three years now. Yet it’s the veteran No. 5 starter who hurt himself earlier this spring.
In the lineup, they have a right fielder coming back from elbow surgery, a first baseman who couldn’t stay on the field last season, and a designated hitter who’s approaching 40 and hasn’t played in more than a year. Yet it’s the reliable center fielder who spent the past week in the trainers’ room.
“I guess all I can tell is just how I feel each and every day,” Jacoby Ellsbury said this morning. “But until I swing a bat, until I throw, until I do really explosive stuff, that will be the real test. But it does feel better each and every day.”
Ellsbury has a mildly strained oblique. The injury was supposed to keep him out of the lineup a couple of days, but he’s now gone a week without baseball activities. Ellsbury remains confident he’ll play on Opening Day, and for now it seems to be more bump in the road than significant concern. The Yankees have to hope it stays that way, because Ellsbury might be their most dependable position player.
“If not the most important, one of the most important guys on our team and definitely in our lineup,” Alex Rodriguez said. “He is certainly one of the guys that I’m super excited about coming back. He’s kind of a rock star and he has a lot of skills. He reminds me of a very skilled point guard in baseball. He can do a lot of things very well, and I hated to play against him because he was so dangerous.”
While Ellsbury has a history of injuries, his two most significant were the product of collisions and not some chronic health problem. Just last spring he missed the last two weeks of Grapefruit League games with a calf injury, but he still opened the season with a strong month of April.
“Coming into the season I felt pretty good,” he said. “I got some at-bats across the street and everything. I felt pretty good. I felt like I was seeing the ball, tracking pitches. And I felt pretty good a couple of days ago in the games with that (before getting hurt). Hopefully I should get some at-bats before we break.”
The Yankees know they have some health and age concerns in their lineup, but Ellsbury’s not supposed to be the one having problems.
“He’s such a unique talent,” Rodriguez said. “You don’t see talent like that come around very often. … There’s a lot of things that I admire about his game and I look forward to hopefully driving him in this year.”
• The Yankees lost 7-6 this afternoon, but it’s hard to blame Chris Young. The Yankees fourth outfielder had a pair of home runs in the loss. The Yankees gave him another turn in center field today, though it seems more likely he’ll play some sort of platoon role in the corners. “The entire goal is just to be ready for whatever,” Young told MLB.com. “Be prepared for whatever situation is going to get thrown my way.”
• Young starter Bryan Mitchell was charged with two runs through 3.1 innings. Both runs scored after he left the game, but Mitchell allowed his share of base runners with four hits and three walks. His stuff is impressive, and the Yankees keep saying he’s still in the fifth-starter mix, but Mitchell also has a 7.36 ERA and 2.18 WHIP this spring. It’s only 7.1 innings total — hardly defines Mitchell as a pitcher — but in the short term, it suggests he’ll likely be on the outside looking in. “This is a young man with good stuff,” Joe Girardi said after the game. “It’s learning how to pound the strike zone with that good stuff and learning how to put guys away that is going to be a factor for him. I think this kid’s got a pretty high ceiling, I do. There’s stuff there.”
• Speaking of the fifth starter: Esmil Rogers gets the start tomorrow, and it sounds like Adam Warren might pitch on Thursday. Girardi said today that he’d like to have the fifth starter spot ironed out by the end of the week.
• Four relievers got in today’s game. Chasen Shreve allowed an RBI hit to a pitcher, Jose Ramirez — who’s already been sent down — struck out three but also was charged with a run, and Kyle Davies took the loss after allowing three runs in the seventh. The one pitching standout for the day was young Jacob Lindgren, who’s been terrific all spring. He’s flown remarkably under the radar, but he’s still around and still has terrific numbers.
• Brian McCann hit his second home run of the spring. He also threw out Bryce Harper trying to steal second on a pitch out. … John Ryan Murphy had two hits but is still hitting just .185 this spring. It was also a two-hit day for Rob Refsnyder (including a double). … As planned, Brendan Ryan got another turn at shortstop. He also got some at-bats as a designated hitter yesterday. Despite missing time with that back injury, Ryan still seems fairly secure in his spot on the Opening Day roster.
Associated Press photos
Spring Game 22: Yankees at Nationals • 03.23.15
RHP Bryan Mitchell (0-1, 9.00 in spring training)
Yunel Escobar 2B
Ian Desmond SS
Bryce Harper RF
Ryan Zimmerman 1B
Wilson Ramos C
Clint Robinson LF
Michael Taylor CF
Drew Ward 3B
Doug Fister P
RHP Doug Fister (0-0, 3.24 in spring training)
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., MLB Network
WEATHER: Looks like the rain will hold off enough to give them a fighting chance.
UMPIRES: HP Paul Nauert, 1B Gary Cederstrom, 2B Hunter Wendelstedt, 3B Ed Hickox
TODAY’S SECOND STRING: C Austin Romine, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Dan Fiorito, SS Cole Figueroa, 3B Jonathan Galvez, LF Tyler Austin, CF Ramon Flores, RF Slade Heathcott, DH Eddy Rodriguez
TODAY’S SCHEDULED RELIEVERS: Kyle Davies, Jose Ramirez, Jacob Lindgren, Nick Rumbelow, Chasen Shreve
ADVANTAGE YANKEES: Looks like the Nationals are going to play without a DH, but still let the Yankees use one.
UPDATE, 2:34 p.m.: The Yankees have tied the game at 4 on a Chris Young home run in the fifth. Brian McCann also has a home run in this game, and Rob Refsnyder already has two hits including a double. Bryan Mitchell was charged with two runs in 3.1 innings, though both scored after he left the game (they came on a two-run single by Nats pitcher Doug Fister off Yankees reliever Chasen Shreve).
UPDATE, 3:24 p.m.: Chris Young has his second homer of the game and the Yankees are up 6-4.
UPDATE, 3:47 p.m.: Well, that didn’t last. Three runs off Kyle Davies in the bottom of the seventh and it’s now 7-6 Washington. Couple of big doubles that inning.
In the past four days, the Yankees have sent seven pitchers to minor league camp. As of yesterday, they’ve now gotten every non-rehab pitcher into a spring training game. They have Esmil Rogers starting tonight, Adam Warren starting tomorrow, and Bryan Mitchell scheduled for at least one more start this spring.
“The competition’s on now, in a sense,” Joe Girardi said. “These guys are competing for jobs. Even if they felt it before, this is when we’re really going to start playing attention.”
Now’s the time to start ironing out the pitching staff. Assuming health — a big assumption, but best we can do so far — the Yankees seem to have 10 pitchers locked into one role or another.
That leaves the Yankees with two spots to fill. Could be a starter and a reliever. Could be a pair of relievers. Could prioritize the need for a long man. Could lean toward adding another lefty.
“I think a lot of these guys have thrown pretty well,” Girardi said. “You look at the amount of runs we’ve given up in spring training, we haven’t given up too many. Is it a clear-cut? No, but we still have two and a half weeks to go, and I think that’s the important thing.”
Here are the options still in big league camp (I’m not counting either Ivan Nova or Vicente Campos, each of whom is in camp but working back from Tommy John surgery):
All five of these could be long relievers in the bullpen, could be fifth starters in the rotation, or could be spot starters when the Yankees want to give everyone else an extra day of rest. The one who might not be totally flexible is Mitchell, not because he can’t pitch out of the pen, but because he’s young enough with a high-enough ceiling that the Yankees might prefer to keep him working as a starter no matter what. He’s the only one of this group who seems in line to get another start this spring, but the smart money seems to be on either Warren or Rogers getting that open rotation spot. Could certainly be room for another long man in the pen, though, and one of these could take that job.
Right-handed relievers (7)
Jose Ramirez, Chris Martin, Jared Burton, Danny Burawa, Andrew Bailey, Nick Rumbelow, Wilking Rodriguez
The Yankees have loaded up on hard-throwing right handers, including one (Branden Pinder) who’s already been sent down to minor league camp. Burton and Bailey are the veterans of this group, though it’s hard to know whether Bailey has time to prove he’s ready for Opening Day. Rumbelow and Rodriguez are non-40-man players, though Rodriguez did pitch in the big leagues a little bit last season. Ramirez and Martin each also pitched in the big leagues last season, and Burawa was added to the 40-man this winter. Really, each of these guys has pitched pretty well so far. Rumbelow and Martin have a lot of strikeouts, and at various points Girardi has specifically said he’s been impressed by those two and Ramirez.
Left-handed relievers (2)
Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren
The Yankees brought six left-handed relievers into camp. Two are basically guaranteed spots in the bullpen (Miller and Wilson) and two have already been sent to minor league camp (James Pazos and Tyler Webb), which leaves two guys still fighting for spots on the roster. Might not be an overwhelming need for three left-handers in the bullpen, but none of the Yankees’ lefties have to be true left-on-left specialists, and so far both Shreve and Lindgren have looked sharp in big league camp. Shreve is on the 40-man roster and got some big league experience last season, which might give him a leg up on Lindgren, who was drafted just last season.
Associated Press photos
Joe Girardi said the Yankees don’t have a full prognosis for Chris Capuano just yet, but it’s pretty clear he won’t be ready for Opening Day.
“I’d be surprised if he’s not down for a while,” Girardi said.
That leaves the Yankees sorting through a bunch of options for the fifth starter spot. Capuano might not have had the job locked up heading into camp, but he seemed to be a heavy favorite. Now the job is wide-open with a series of relievers, prospects and minor league free agents fighting for the gig.
“We’ll look at everyone, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi asid. “Because we need to fill a spot now.”
Adam Warren has a start coming up on Friday and Esmil Rogers has one on Saturday. Earlier today, Brian Cashman sounded impressed by Rogers, and Girardi seems to feel the same way.
“He’s thrown the ball really well,” Girardi said. “Larry (Rothschild) worked with him long and hard last year during some bullpen sessions about changing a few things. I thought he pitched pretty well for us. He’s started in his career and he’s got a number of pitches he can go to. He’s been really good this spring. He’ll be one of the guys we’re really looking at.”
Here are eight guys who could fill that spot in the rotation (though some of them are candidates only in theory):
1. Adam Warren
In my mind, the current favorite of this group. After a breakout season as a late-inning reliever, Warren was told to prepare as a starter this spring, and he’s been stretched out for a situation just like this one. He started the spring opener, has yet to make a relief appearance, and is currently scheduled to make his third spring start on Friday. He’ll have three starts before anyone else on this list has two.
2. Esmil Rogers
Earlier this spring, Joe Girardi said he thinks of Rogers much the same way he used to think of David Phelps. And really, if Phelps were still here, he’d surely become a quick favorite for this rotation opening. Rogers’ numbers have never quite measured up to his raw stuff, but he pitched well as a starter this winter and the Yankees have him scheduled for a season spring start on Saturday.
3. Chase Whitley
In his very first press conference of the spring, Girardi mentioned Whitley unprompted as a candidate to be either a long reliever or a spot starter. He’s pitched five scoreless innings so far this spring, and while he got himself into significant trouble last time out, he also got out of jams with a series of ground balls. Put himself on the radar with a strong big league debut before fading late last season.
4. Bryan Mitchell
Looked excellent in a split-squad start earlier this spring, then was knocked around for four runs on seven hits through two innings this afternoon. Mitchell has great stuff — fastball gets up to 97, effective curveball, relatively new slider/cutter — but his minor league results have been inconsistent. Seems to have a big enough arm that he could impress and pitch his way into this job.
5. Luis Severino
There is surely a lot of desire to think of Severino as a favorite, I’m just not sure there’s much reason to do so. He’s looked great in his early spring outings, but he still has just six games of experience above Class-A ball. Perhaps he can dazzle the rest of the way and force the Yankees’ hand, but he seems more like a second-half possibility. Strep throat has knocked his spring schedule slightly off track.
6. Scott Baker
Strongest track record of anyone on this list, but it’s also been a long time since his last particularly good big league season. Baker was a mainstay in Minnesota before having extensive Tommy John surgery — had to repair the tendon as well — back in 2012. Had a rough spring debut on Saturday. Had a 1.19 WHIP (with a 5.47 ERA) in 25 appearances for Texas last season.
7. Kyle Davies
Like Baker, Davies is a big league veteran in camp on a minor league deal. Unlike Baker, Davies hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2011 and the Yankees have not yet given him a start this spring. Seems far more likely to be a veteran presence in Triple-A, but have to mention him as an experienced candidate who’s played this sort of role before.
8. Jose De Paula
Like Davies in that he’s a candidate in theory only. Unlike Davies, De Paula’s candidacy has nothing to do with big league experience and everything to do with a spot on the 40-man roster. He’s never pitched in the big leagues, but the Yankees gave him a big league contract this winter. He pitched two scoreless inning in his only spring appearance so far, but that was a relief outing.
Associated Press photos
Masahiro Tanaka threw a two-inning simulated game this morning and seems on track — though the Yankees won’t say for certain — to make his spring training debut next week.
“He’s exactly where you want him to be at this point in spring training,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said.
Facing Cole Figueroa and Gary Sanchez, the only really hard-hit ball Tanaka allowed came when he told catcher Eddy Rodriguez that he wanted to work toward the outside part of the plate. Knowing an outside fastball was coming, Sanchez lined a sure single up the middle. Otherwise, the contact was pretty soft. Figueroa, who’s shown a great eye in the minors, struck out looking and seem to know he’d taken strike three.
“It’s good to see him get out there and be able to go through all his pitches and have a good day of work and feel good after,” Rothschild said. “If things progress the way they are, I’m very confident he’ll be ready (by Opening Day).”
Despite the looming risk of that torn elbow ligament, Rothschild said he’s not looking for any signs of Tanaka holding back.
“Not based on what I’ve seen up until this point, not at all,” Rothschild said. “I think you look for the best, and then if you have to adjust, you adjust off that. … It’s his first sim game, so it was a good day of work.”
Up top is some video of Tanaka’s simulated outing.
• Rothschild would not announce exact dates for Tanaka, Michael Pineda or CC Sabathia to get into games for the first time. Pineda threw a side today, which makes me wonder if he’s going to start Tuesday’s game (the rotation lines up for Esmil Rogers to start that day, and Rogers also threw a pen today). Rothschild, though, said he wasn’t ready to set the rotation beyond Adam Warren pitching tomorrow.
• On whether Tanaka’s next game will be a real game (which seemed inevitable): “We’ll see how he is tomorrow and the next couple of days, and then judge it based on that.”
• Talked to Bryan Mitchell a little bit this morning about the new “cutter” he threw last night. Both a scout and Joe Girardi referred to it as a cutter, but Mitchell said he’s thinking of it as a slider. He’s thrown a cutter in the past, but adjusted the grip to make it more like a slider. Said he feels more consistent with it this way.
• Also, a scout noted that Mitchell’s curveball seemed a little tighter and easier to control yesterday. Mitchell said he’s made no changes to the curveball. “I’ve just gotten more consistent with it,” he said.
• Looks like the big league guys who aren’t on the trip actually have the day off. Didn’t see any of them in the clubhouse this morning, and there was no full position player workout on th daily schedule. Suggests Alex Rodriguez, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brett Gardner, Chris Young and Garrett Jones have the day off.
• Today’s second string: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Greg Bird, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Jose Pirela, LF Jonathan Galvez, CF Jake Cave, RF Aaron Judge
• Today’s scheduled relievers: Jose De Paula, Danny Burawa, Tyler Webb, Nick Rumbelow, Kyle Davies (Taylor Garrison, Zach Nuding, Wilking Rodriguez, Caleb Cotham also on the trip)
Associated Press photo
Carlos Beltran walked twice, struck out once, played six innings in right field and said he did it all with no pain or discomfort in his right elbow. He wore a brace during the game, but had nothing on his arm when it was over.
“Honestly I’m not concerned at all,” he said. “I’ve been taking a lot of swings in spring training and taking a lot of BP. Thank God every day I wake up feeling good. I have no concerns. Now it’s just time to get the timing and that’s it.”
The walk came in Beltran’s third and final plate appearance before he was lifted for a pinch runner. He had only one play in the field, which was basically recovering a double.
After offseason surgery to repair a bone spur and remove loose pieces from his elbow, Beltran got into spring training games a little later than most of his teammates, but he’s been going through drills since pitchers and catchers reported two weeks ago.
“The good thing is I am pain free,” he said. “Now it’s time to continue to get better and put good at-bats during the whole spring training. … Honestly speaking I have no idea (how many at-bats are necessary). I’m just going up with the program and I know that once we get less people here, you’re going to start playing more often and almost every day. Once we get to that point, then that will be good for us.”
• Alex Rodriguez was also 0-for-2 with a walk tonight. He struck out and lined softly to short on a broken bat. “All I’m looking to do right now is just square the ball, start hitting the ball with good contact,” he said. “I think like any other spring, hopefully in the last week four, week five, I’ll start driving the ball. It’s par for the course right now. You don’t want to be locked in on March . . . whatever it is.”
• Rodriguez’s last at-bat was a strikeout against hard-throwing Blake Wood, whose fastball averages roughly 97 mph. Rodriguez didn’t swing at three straight called strikes. “The last at-bat, I don’t think I saw one of those pitches,” Rodriguez said. “I was hoping one of them was a ball. … The other day I got a 96 MPH fastball and hit it sharply to short. Some days are going to be pretty goods, some days are going to be pretty bad. This is just a work in progress.”
• Plan is for Rodriguez to play again on Sunday. “Do I put him at third?” Giradri said. “It’s possible.”
• The Yankees had their own hard-throwing right-hander on the mound tonight, getting their first look at offseason addition Chris Martin. He seemed to make a pretty strong impression stranding two runners with a strikeout and a couple of ground balls. “Martin did a really good job keeping his fastball down, and they did not have good swings on him tonight,” Girardi said. “That’s something obviously you pay attention to moving forward. Obviously there’s some deception there. He’s tall, and he’s got a real downhill angle.”
• This was also the spring debut of David Carpenter. While Martin is trying to win a spot in the bullpen, Carpenter seems to have one locked up. “Obviously they both have good fastballs,” Girardi said. “… I thought Carpenter threw a really good split. He got a strikeout on it. So we saw some really good things.”
• Yankees starter Chris Capuano had four strikeouts but also allowed a two-run homer in his two innings. He took the loss in a 3-1 game. … The other Pirates run came on a solo homer off Jose Ramirez. … Two strikeouts in an inning and a third for Jacob Lindgren. Another lefty, Chasen Shreve, pitched a scoreless ninth with no hits and two strikeouts. … Only five Yankees hits tonight, one apiece for Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jake Cave, Eddy Rodriguez and Francisco Arcia. Cave had the one Yankees RBI.
• Yankees starters this weekend: Scott Baker on Saturday and Adam Warren on Sunday. No starters announced beyond that, though the rotation — as we’ve seen it so far — lines up for Nathan Eovaldi on Monday and Esmil Rogers on Tuesday.
• Girardi sounded impressed by Bryan Mitchell’s start in the afternoon game. While Mitchell clearly has a big arm, Girardi certainly made it sound like the Yankees aren’t considering him for that open spot in the bullpen. “He’ll be a starter, yes,” Girardi said. “That doesn’t man that during the season you couldn’t use him different, but we’re preparing him to start.”
• For now, I really have to think the Yankees are thinking of Mitchell as readily available rotation depth, perhaps as an option for some of those sixth-starter opportunity. “He’s a guy at some point is going to help us this year,” Girardi said. “… It’s hard to say (whether he could win a job out of camp). There’s always those guys who you’re not sure where they’re going to be at, and they have a great camp and all of a sudden they surprise you and they’re part of your club. One of the reasons we’re starting him is we want him to get the experience because we believe he’s going to help us.”
• Plan was for Jaron Long to pitch two innings this afternoon, but after the 50-minute rain delay, the Yankees kept it to just one inning. “He knows how to pitch,” Girardi said. “He knows how to locate, he knows how to change speeds, so it was nice to watch.”
• From Baseball America’s Mat Eddy: The Yankees have signed Mat Gamel to a minor league deal. Gamel’s brother Ben plays in the Yankees system, and Mat was a pretty good young hitter before a series of knee injuries derailed his career. He hasn’t played in two years, but he used to rake in the minors, and he’s still just 29. Worth a shot I guess. He used to play a lot of third base, but was mostly a first baseman when he got hurt. Makes me wonder how the Yankees might use him if he’s healthy. Gamel hits left-handed, and so do the Yankees top upper-level first basemen Kyle Roller and Greg Bird.
• Final word to Girardi: “You saw some guys get out there for the first time. Martin for the first time and had a really good downhill fastball. Carpenter for the first time, which was good to see. It was good to see Gardy hit a ball on the screws and get on. Jake hit a ball on the screws. That sort of thing. It’s a lot of baseball, but it was a good day.”
Associated Press photos
While half of the Yankees go through pregame batting practice here in Tampa, the other half just finished off a 4-1 win against the Phillies in Clearwater. Branden Pinder pitched two hitless innings for a save. Greg Bird had an RBI double, his second double of the spring. Up from minor league camp for the day, Taylor Dugas had a hit and a nice running catch in foul territory.
“You always want to impress your employer, no matter what you do,” Long said. “That’s what I try to do each and every day, try to open their eyes as much as I can while staying within yourself at the same time.”
Immediately after a 50-minute rain delay, Long go loose for a second time and pitched a scoreless third inning. He struck out the first batter he faced — veteran Carlos Ruiz — then handled a chopped comebacker before ending the inning with a fly ball to left.
“You just try to go after each guy and work ahead,” Long said. “Obviously you have to give hitters credit, but you can’t let it get in your head too much. Just have to try to execute each and every pitch. If you do that, you can live with the result.”
Long is 23 years old, and he was signed as an undrafted free agent out of college. He doesn’t have a huge fastball and doesn’t seem to dazzle scouts, but the Yankees like his ability to throw strikes and mix pitches. He pitched his way from Low-A to Double-A last season and had success at every stop, finishing with a 2.18 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and more than 5.5 strikeouts per walk. He basically followed the Luis Severino path, except without the same strikeout totals or prospect hype. Whether he can maintain those results remains to be seen, but he’s played his way onto the radar.
Long said he still talks to his father each and every night, and his mom was in attendance for today’s big league spring training debut. The Yankees play the Mets — Kevin Long’s new team — a couple of times this spring. Surely Long would like to get in one of those games.
“If they tell me I’m going to pitch in a game, then I pitch in the game,” Long said. “Otherwise, just go about my business.”
• Strong two-inning start by Bryan Mitchell, who struck out two, walked none and allowed one hit. “Plus fastball at 94-97 with some ride,” said one scout attendance. “Looks like he took some arch out of his curveball which helps. … Have always been a fan.” The scout noted that taking the arch out of the curveball makes it easier to command, which should make the pitch more effective.
• Good game for each of the Yankees middle infielders in Clearwater. Stephen Drew, Didi Gregorius, Rob Refsnyder and Nick Noonan each had a hit this afternoon.
• Two scoreless innings apiece for Mitchell, Pinder and Matt Tracy. Long and Nick Goody added a scoreless inning each. The one Phillies run came off Mark Montgomery, who gave up a solo homer.
• Throwing error on third base prospect Eric Jagielo. It wasn’t a particularly awful throw, but it wasn’t great and Kyle Roller couldn’t scoop it. Came after a fairly tough play toward the line. Obviously not a good play, but not an awful play either. Just an error. Not a glaring one.
• Aaron Judge walked twice today. So did Slade Heathcott, who also had a hit in his other plate appearance. Heathcott’s having a really nice spring so far. Only a few days in, but I’m sure it means something to a guy who’s missed so much time the past few years.
• Former Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli is in the Pirates’ lineup for tonight’s game in Tampa. Today also happens to be his 29th birthday. Former Yankees prospect Jose Tabata is also playing for the Pirates tonight.
• Tonight’s second string: C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Tyler Wade, SS Cito Culver, 3B Dante Bichette, LF Jake Cave, CF Chris Young, RF Tyler Austin, DH John Ryan Murphy
• Tonight’s scheduled relievers: David Carpenter, Chris Martin, Diego Moreno, Jacob Lindgren, Jose Ramirez, Chasen Shreve
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alex Rodriguez DH
Garrett Jones 1B
Jose Pirela 2B
Jonathan Galvez 3B
Cole Figueroa SS
Associated Press photos
Spring Game 4: Yankees at Phillies • 03.06.15
Didi Gregorius SS
Chase Headley 3B
Stephen Drew 2B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Greg Bird DH
Gary Sanchez C
Ramon Flores LF
Aaron Judge RF
Slade Heathcott CF
RHP Bryan Mitchell (6-7, 4.37 in the minors last year)
Odubel Herrera CF
Freddy Galvis SS
Grady Sizemore DH
Ryan Howard 1B
Darin Ruf LF
Cody Asche 3B
Carlos Ruiz C
Jeff Francoeur RF
Cord Phelps 2B
LHP Cole Hamels (9-9, 2.46 in 2014)
TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m., not on television
WEATHER: Been raining off and on for a while. Not sure when exactly we’ll get started, but it doesn’t seem like either team is anticipating much of a delay, but there will be a slight one.
UMPIRES: HP Phil Cuzzi, 1B Vic Carapazza, 3B D.J. Reyburn
TODAY’S SECOND STRING: C Kyle Higashioka, 1B Kyle Roller, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Nick Noonan, 3B Eric Jagielo, LF Michael O’Neill, CF Mason Williams, RF Taylor Dugas
SCHEDULED RELIEVERS: Nick Goody, Jaron Long, Matt Tracy and Mark Montgomery
FROM THE LEFT SIDE: The Yankees are facing a lot of lefties today. Cole Hamels is starting today’s game in Clearwater, and lefty Jeff Locke is starting tonight’s game in Tampa. In addition, the Phillies have three lefties scheduled to come out of the bullpen this afternoon (not a bad test for Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew, who have struggled against left-handed pitching).
DAY, NIGHT: This is the first game of a day-night doubleheader. Basically the big league infielders are playing the afternoon road game, while the big league outfielders — plus Alex Rodriguez — play the home night game.
UPDATE, 1:07 p.m.: Looks like a two-minute delay. Pretty good. Looked like it would be closer to 10 minutes or so.
UPDATE, 1:08 p.m.: Gregorius starts the game with a fly ball to left center off Hamels. Hitless off lefties.
UPDATE, 1:12 p.m.: Stephen Drew with a base hit off the lefty. Clearly no need for a platoon at second.
UPDATE, 1:34 p.m.: Mitchell is through two scoreless innings. So is Hamels. Each starter allowed one hit. Mitchell induced a double play — close play, not sure it should have been an out at first — and got a couple of strikeouts in his second inning. Got Ryan Howard looking and Darin Ruf swinging.
UPDATE, 1:39 p.m.: Absurdly early, but Slade Heathcott looks good this spring. Just singled after an Aaron Judge leadoff walk in the third.
UPDATE, 1:47 p.m.: So the two minor league kids got on base to start the inning, then Gregorius, Headley and Drew went down in order to leave them stranded.
UPDATE, 1:48 p.m.: Just as Jaron Long go to the mound to start the bottom of the third, we’re now getting the tarp on the field. Brutal. Wanted to see him pitch.
UPDATE, 2:40 p.m.: We’re back underway here in Clearwater with the Yankees starters still in the game and Long on the mound. Struck out Carlos Ruiz in the first at-bat, then fielded a ball back to the mound for the second out. First thing you notice about him: Stands to the extreme first-base side of the rubber. Barely has his toe on it as he delivers. Also, works very fast. Love that.
UPDATE, 2:44 p.m.: That’s a 1-2-3 inning for Long. Strikeout. Chopper back to the mound. Routine fly to left.
UPDATE, 2:47 p.m.: Teixeira singles up the middle. Roller comes in to pinch run (only in spring training, folks). Bird doubles to right-center to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Bird hit it really well.
UPDATE, 2:51 p.m.: From back in Tampa, Wally Matthews just tweeted tonight’s Yankees lineup:
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Brett Gardner LF
Carlos Beltran RF
Brian McCann C
Alex Rodriguez DH
Garrett Jones 1B
Jose Pirela 2B
Jonathan Galvez 3B
Cole Figueroa SS
UPDATE, 2:59 p.m.: RBI single by Ramon Flores. RBI double by Didi Gregorius. It’s now 3-0 Yankees in the fourth.