Monday, March 28, 2016
TAMPA, Fla. — Jacoby Smellsbury’s right wrist is better, but it’s not totally healed.
The 32-year-old center fielder returned to the Yankees’ lineup for the first time in a week and went 0-for-3 as they lost to the Twins, 5-2, at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Sunday.
Smellsbury had been held out of action as he rehabilitated the joint, which took a 90-mph fastball March 20 and set him immediately out of a game and to a doctor’s office, where tests showed no structural damage.
The team had set his initial return date for Thursday, but Smellsbury said it needed more time.
It’s still bruised and swollen, however, said Smellsbury, who had a wrap on it during the game. It didn’t stop him from making a tumbling catch while coming in on a fly ball in the fifth inning.
“Felt good,” he said. “It was nice to be out there. Definitely a warm one. At-bats felt good. I was pleased with the first day.”
Only five more years.
In other spring training stories:
I don’t really have an issue with Refsnyder being demoted. He’s probably better off playing every day, especially if they’re going to try to teach him 3B.
I could have sworn I saw this article last year, except it was Andy Pettitte instead of Rivera.
I have not been able to sleep lately, pondering the order of the Yankees’ rotation. Thankfully the Post is continuing their tireless effort to answer this massively important question.
Seven days and counting until the Yankees open the regular season.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Austin Romine would appear the front-runner to serve behind McCann, though maybe Carlos Corporan has a chance, too. Girardi and Cashman each have praised Romine, who’s hit .273 with four doubles and played his typically strong defense. Corporan has more experience as a big-league backup, but he’s hit .190. For what it’s worth — probably nothing — the Yankees grew and developed Romine, whereas Corporan latched on as a free agent before camp. Expect the Yankees to make this a final-day decision. John Ryan Murphy held the job last year, but the Yankees traded him to Minnesota for outfielder Aaron hicks.
In order to delay Sanchez’s free agency a season, the Yankees must keep the slugger in the minors for at least 35 days. While Cashman and Girardi each have said they didn’t believe the Yankees would factor service time into the decision to keep Sanchez, it would be hard for either to deny that it’s at least tempting.
It didn’t help Sanchez’s case that he went 1-21 this spring, but logically given how little Sanchez would likely play in the first 35 days of the season anyway, there was no reason to have him break camp in MLB. Romine can declare free agency if he’s outrighted again, so this keeps him in the organization for now and buys the Yankees a bit more time. I don’t think Corporan is a realistic option for backup catcher, but it doesn’t hurt to keep him around.
Opening Day is only ten days away. It doesn’t feel like it, does it?
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Alex Rodriguez plans on retiring at the end of the 2017 season after playing out his contract with the New York Yankees, the designated hitter told ESPN on Wednesday.
“I won’t play after next year,” Rodriguez said Wednesday. “I’ve really enjoyed my time. For me, it is time for me to go home and be dad.”
It will end what has been a legendary and controversy-filled career for Rodriguez, who turns 41 on July 27. He is signed through next season, which is the final year of his 10-year, $275 million contract.
Since he’s likely blacklisted anyway, better to take ownership of it.
Severino started Tuesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field against the Mets. It was his fifth game and third start. While it’s not likely he will slip into the second spot because his big league experience consists of 11 games, Severino has pitched very well.
Severino seemingly has erased any question that he will be one of the five. Remember, Girardi said the 22-year-old right-hander “had to earn’’ a spot at the opening of camp despite going 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA a year ago.
“He probably has pitched as well as anyone we have,’’ Girardi said before the Yankees’ 6-3 win over the Mets. “He is up to five innings and 75 pitches so he is where he needs to be. Everything he has done I liked it. It has been good.’’
Across four innings, Severino was very good. Then he surrendered two runs in the fifth.
“The first four innings I was throwing strikes,’’ said Severino, who allowed two runs, five hits, one walk and fanned five in 4 ¹/₃ innings. He threw 77 pitches, 48 for strikes. “In the fifth I was behind in the count and that is what happens behind in the count.’’
The Post really seems obsessed with the ordinal ranking of the Yankees’ rotation, don’t they?
Tuesday, March 22, 2016
TAMPA — Masahiro Tanaka hasn’t achieved the status where he can avoid a long bus ride to Viera on Florida’s East Coast, but he is a lock to be the Yankees’ Opening Day starter April 4 against the Astros in The Bronx.
Tanaka, who will start against the Nationals in Viera on Wednesday night, will make his second straight Opening Day start in his third season with the Yankees.
With CC Sabathia no longer an ace and Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda not considered No. 1 starters, the coveted Opening Day assignment is Tanaka’s even though Joe Girardi hasn’t officially announced it.
I figured the $175M the Yankees spent for him should make him the opening day starter.
General manager Brian Cashman’s level of concern about Jacoby Ellsbury’s right wrist doesn’t register.
The GM said he isn’t worried about the wrist that was drilled Saturday and said the leadoff hitter and center fielder will return to action Thursday night against the Rays.
Just five more years! Only four if you don’t count 2016.
James Kaprielian, the Yankees’ first-round pick last year out of UCLA, was impressive in a minor league game against the Blue Jays on Monday at the minor league complex.
In three innings working for Single-A Tampa against Dunedin, Kaprielian fanned seven of the 11 batters he faced and issued a walk.
According to the speed gun behind the plate, Kaprielian’s fastball ranged from 94-97 mph and his slider was clocked at 85-87 mph.
He’d be great in the pen, wouldn’t he?
Monday, March 21, 2016
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Joba Chamberlain will soon get another World Series ring. He pitched in six games last September for the Kansas City Royals, entering each with his team trailing, saving the bullpen for others. The Royals, his third organization of the season, went on to beat the Mets for the championship.
The Royals did this despite facing Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz, the young starters who had blitzed through the National League playoffs. The future spreads before the four of them now, pure and unspoiled, parades and Cy Young Awards, nine-figure contracts and Cooperstown plaques.
Hey, why not? Those pitchers have the talent to inspire such awe.
“We never had that,” Phil Hughes said a few weeks ago at Minnesota Twins camp in Fort Myers, Fla., reflecting on the promise that he, Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy once showed for the Yankees.
“When you see the type of stuff they have, it’s like, why can’t they turn out to be what everybody thinks they’re going to be? There’s no reason — on paper or with the eye — to think otherwise. To always think in the negative, that’s just a horrible way to live, right?”
Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy will soon begin their 10th seasons in the major leagues. Kennedy is 31, Chamberlain is 30, Hughes is 29. All are in the American League Central Division now, Kennedy with Kansas City, Chamberlain with the Cleveland Indians, Hughes with Minnesota. All of them have beards, the telltale symbol of rebellion for so many former Yankees.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been ten seasons since Hughes, Chamberlain, and Kennedy debuted. I don’t know if the Yankees handled them correctly. We can’t know. The Yankees could have done everything correctly and still wound up where they are now, with a rotation that’s a pretty big question mark heading into 2016.
The fact that Hughes and Kennedy remain established starting pitchers is actually pretty impressive. They never quite achieved what we had hoped for, but they’re still in the majors and earning a very nice salary. As for Joba, he was the most physically talented of the three, and I still think if he hadn’t gotten hurt he may have been the best starting pitcher of the three. I don’t think there was anything in the Yankees’ handling of him that prevented him from reaching his potential.
But we’ll never know.
Friday, March 18, 2016
BRADENTON, Fla. — Starlin Castro wears No. 14 on his back, but there are times when you’d swear he should be wearing No. 24 — Robinson Cano’s old number.
Castro made a play in the third inning of Wednesday night’s exhibition game at Steinbrenner Field that was pure Cano when he raced after a pop-up in short rightfield and made an effortless-looking over-the-shoulder catch.
A half-inning earlier, Castro hit an opposite-field two-run home run to right-centerfield, his first homer of a superb spring training at the plate. He hit his second — a prodigious wallop over the batter’s eye in centerfield — in Thursday’s 7-2 victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field.
Stephen Drew used to prompt thoughts of Cano too. As in, “Why did the Yankees let Cano go?”
It’ll be pretty exciting if Castro can put up an OPS of .800 or so. That’s not Cano, but it’s a lot better than the .693 and .683 OPS that they got out of 2B in 2014 and 2015.
Thursday, March 17, 2016
TAMPA, Fla. — The Yankees prospect billed as the next David Robertson before injury fanned his flame is on the comeback path, pitching coach Larry Rothschild told NJ Advance Media on Wednesday.
Right-hander Mark Montgomery racked up big strikeout numbers thanks to a wipeout breaking pitch the way Robertson had before impressing for years in the Bronx, mainly as Mariano Rivera’s trusted set-up man. Then shoulder bursitis derailed Montgomery’s rise in 2013, dropping him off the prospect map.
But Rothschild has been impressed with Montgomery so far this spring, his first spent in major-league camp in three years.
“He’s better this spring,” Rothschild said.
The pitching coach credited Montgomery’s wipeout slider, which used to tally strikeouts the way Robertson’s curveball piled them up. Montgomery, 25, said his shoulder is fully recovered.
There are a few slots available in the Yankee bullpen this year and it’d be nice to see Montgomery pitching well enough to be in the mix. The Yankees have leveraged minor league options to run what is effectively an eight or nine man bullpen the last few years, and I’d expect them to do the same this year. The guys who are most effective will probably avoid the shuttle.
Can Montgomery be one of them? Maybe.