Yankees: Notes from the Last Week of Spring Training
Opening Day is officially less than a week away, and players and fans alike are gearing up for the games that count. Frankly, it couldn’t have come at a better time since most of our March Madness brackets are busted. Final managerial decisions are being made and predictions for the season are being tossed around like a fly ball caught in the fickle outfield wind.
Pineda Pinned As Fifth Starter
Joe Girardi has officially announced what everyone was hoping and expecting to hear. Michael Pineda has been named the fifth starter. Six solid innings by the big righty on Sunday cemented his spot in the rotation and punctuated a dominant spring (2-1, 1.20 ERA in four games). Pineda, along with Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova, is invaluable in the sense that the Yankees now have three young, solid starters in the rotation, something they haven’t had in quite some time. Girardi has also announced that Nova will pitch the third game in Houston, following CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda. Tanaka will pitch the first game in Toronto, in order to break up the similar styles of Kuroda and Tanaka. This rotation order will likely continue throughout April.
Ellsbury Confident He’ll Be in Opening Day Lineup
After a hiatus from playing in games that began March 14, Jacoby Ellsbury racked up six plate appearances in a minor league game on Tuesday. Ellsbury had been nursing a sore calf, although a precautionary MRI came back negative and all along the center fielder insisted that if this were the regular season he’d be playing. Yankee fans should be pleased with Tuesday’s results; Ellsbury reported feeling normal, although he was replaced with pinch hitters upon reaching first and did not play the field. The historically injury-prone Ellsbury is adamant that he will be ready for Opening Day, but we’ll hold our collective breath until then.
Ryan? Not So Much
One player who likely will start the season on the disabled list is infielder Brendan Ryan. Ryan has been suffering from upper back spasms and hasn’t played since March 4. He was expected to spell Derek Jeter at shortstop quite a bit since the 39-year-old Jeter figures to require more rest and DH days than he has in the past. If Ryan isn’t available, Girardi will probably select either Dean Anna or Yangervis Solarte to join Eduardo Nunez as utility infielders for the time being.
Captain’s Log: What Can We Truly Expect from Jeter?
Speaking of infielders, it’s no secret that the Yankees’ most famous one has been struggling in spring. Going into Tuesday night’s game, Jeter was 5-for-44 (.114) with no home runs and two RBIs in 15 games. There are obviously two schools of thought to Jeter’s struggles, both of which figure to be publicly speculated if Jeter’s woes at the plate continue. The more optimistic theory is that he’s just getting back into the swing of things after missing most of 2013 and it might take some time to get in a groove, but the Jeter we know will return.
But we know what the cynics are thinking: the captain is broken and irreparable, and Yankee fans will be lucky to get .220 out of his swan song season. It’s too soon to tell which hypothesis will come to fruition, but let’s at least give him the benefit of the doubt for now. The performance of another Yankee veteran just coming off injury could also be cause for concern: Mark Teixeira is a paltry 4-for-26 with nary a homer in sight. However, Teixeira is notorious for his slow offense out of the gate.
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