Tuesday, March 15, 2011
FORT MYERS, Fla. — This month is the third anniversary of one of the Yankees’ scouting coups, when Alfredo Aceves and Manny Banuelos were among four players plucked from their team in Mexico, Sultanes de Monterrey, for $450,000.
Their reunion occurred on Monday night at City of Palms Stadium, in a diluted edition of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, in front of a national television audience, with each surprising his employer this spring training in a different way.
Aceves, a valuable member of the Yankees’ 2009 championship team, has seemingly rebounded from double-barreled adversity — a back injury that cost him most of last season and a fractured collarbone sustained in a November motorcycle accident — to emerge as a candidate for Boston’s bullpen.
Banuelos, a prized 20-year-old left-hander bound for Class AA Trenton, has impressed the Yankees with his poise and command, eliciting gushing praise from the usually low-key Joe Girardi — and from Red Sox Manager Terry Francona.
Pitching in and out of trouble most of the night, Banuelos still fired two and two-thirds scoreless innings in Boston’s 2-1 victory and struck out Carl Crawford and Kevin Youkilis, his final batter, on a dastardly changeup.
Aceves’s magical career arc with the Yankees — he soared from Class A Tampa to the majors in three months in 2008 — flattened at Fenway Park, of all places, when his lower back stiffened as he ran to cover first base last May 8.
It bothered him for the next four months, his season ending in a Class AAA rehabilitation assignment. The potential for more problems persuaded the Yankees not to tender him a contract.
“We could not get him healthy,” General Manager Brian Cashman said, “and I’ll leave it at that.”
That didn’t stop you from tearing up a one year option on Damaso Marte so you could pay him to not pitch for three years, did it?
The decision to non-tender Aceves because of one season of injury struck me as foolish at the time, and it’s starting to look even worse. Then again, I don’t know that he’s got the arsenal to be a full-time major league starter and the Yankee bullpen is pretty stacked right now.
I didn’t see the game last night, so I’d be curious about how Banuelos looked if anyone who saw it wants to comment on it.
Next entry: NY Post: Sherman: Garcia, Colon, Mitre