Spring Training in Tampa, Florida will be very interesting to follow this year. The New York Yankees are coming in after a disappointing ending to 2010 and a somewhat odd off-season.
Veterans and youngsters will all have opportunities to impress the Yankees staff and earn roster spots for the upcoming 2011 season. Up and down the roster there are holes that can need filling, jobs that can be won.
A handful of pitchers enter the Spring with hope of making the Opening Day roster. The starting rotation alone has two spots yet to be filled. Behind CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and A.J. Burnett, the Yankees will need to fill the final two rotation spots.
Youngsters Ivan Nova, Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos will battle veterans Sergio Mitre, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia for those two open spots. Of course, the Yankees will be linked to available free agents like Kevin Millwood and potential trade targets Francisco Liriano all season.
The bullpen, which could be one of the best in the league, does have some manuevering to be done. With newly signed Rafael Soriano handling the 8th inning ahead of closer Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, and Pedro Feliciano will likely handle the 6th and 7th innings. Other pitchers like Mark Prior, Luis Ayala, Brian Anderson, and Warner Madrigal will be looking to earn roster spots.
The starting nine is pretty much set. One position that could see some movement is behind the plate. With Jorge Posada moving to DH, newcomer Russell Martin has the inside track at the starting catcher spot. However, big time prospect Jesus Montero will see plenty of action in the spring in hopes of showing the Yankees he is ready. Francisco Cervelli and Austin Romine will also get looks.
A battle that could be interesting to watch between the starting position players is Brett Gardner vs. Derek Jeter. These two will battle it out to see who will bat lead-off. If the young speedy outfielder ready and able to take on the full-time lead-off position?
The Yankees bench saw some turnover this offseason. Andruw Jones takes over the fourth outfielder spot which was utilized by Marcus Thames last season. Greg Golson, Colin Curtis, and Kevin Russo may get a chance to be a fifth outfielder.
The infield is jammed with bench candidates. Ramiro Pena has the experience and an excellent glove. Eduardo Nunez saw limited action last season but hit .280 and has a nice glove. Many believe he could take over for Jeter in the next couple years if the Yankees switch the captains position.
Pena and Nunez could be pushed by Brandon Laird and spring invitees Eric Chavez and Ronnie Belliard. Laird is a young infielder that has shown very good power. He can play all infield spots but his best is third base. Chavez and Belliard are veterans looking to extend their careers.
As you can see, the Yankees roster is not set just yet. Spring Training is when players get to impress manager Joe Girardi and his staff each and every day. The staff will then determine what’s best for the club come Opening Day, March 31st.
Double G Sports will follow the Yankees position and roster battles throughout Spring Training. Follow us on Twitter and search Double G Sports on Facebook to be sure you don’t miss anything!
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