Spring Training Game Thread: Finale

Saunders: Tommy Kahnle makes Rockies' roster
Castillo: Solarte can opt-out if he doesn't make Opening Day roster

At long last, Spring Training is finally over. The Yankees will play their final Grapefruit League game this afternoon after six successful weeks, successful in the sense that they suffered no major injuries or controversies. Part of that is Alex Rodriguez being away, obviously. Masahiro Tanaka has acclimated well, Michael Pineda looks healthy, Dellin Betances and some other youngsters were impressive … yeah, pretty good six weeks.

Jacoby Ellsbury returns to the lineup for the first time in 15 days, though he has been playing in minor league games all week. By all accounts his tight calf is a non-issue at this point and he will be ready for Opening Day. Starting the first year of a seven-year contract on the DL wouldn’t have been the best first impression. Ivan Nova will make his final spring tune-up appearance before getting the ball in the third game of the regular season on Thursday.

The Marlins are back in Tampa following last night’s game — they probably never left, their Spring Training home is four hours away in Jupiter — and they’ve got a representative lineup. Christian Yelich, Giancarlo Stanton, and former Yankee Casey McGehee are all playing. Right-hander Tom Koehler is on the mound. Here is Joe Girardi‘s final starting lineup of the spring:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. RF Alfonso Soriano
  7. LF Brett Gardner
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. 3B Kelly Johnson
    RHP Ivan Nova

Available Pitchers: RHP David Robertson, RHP Shawn Kelley, LHP Matt Thornton, RHP David Phelps, RHP Adam Warren, and RHP Matt Daley are all scheduled to pitch. RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Danny Burawa, and LHP Fred Lewis are the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Austin Romine, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Yangervis Solarte, SS Dean Anna, 3B Eduardo Nunez, LF Zelous Wheeler, and RF Adonis Garcia will be the second string off the bench. C Roybell Herrera, SS Carmen Angelini, OF Ichiro Suzuki, and OF Antoan Richardson are also available.

Now, the bad news: it’s supposed to rain in Tampa this afternoon and continue pretty much all night. There’s a good chance the game will be cancelled because no one is sitting through a postponement for the final spring game. What that means for Ellsbury and Nova, I have no idea. I’m guessing Nova will throw inside in the batting cage. If they do play, and I hope they do, you can watch live on YES and MLB.tv. Enjoy what is hopefully the last meaningless Yankees game of 2014.

Update (1:05pm): First pitch has been pushed back to 1:15pm ET.

Update (1:13pm): The game has been cancelled. Spring Training is over.

Saunders: Tommy Kahnle makes Rockies' roster
Castillo: Solarte can opt-out if he doesn't make Opening Day roster
  • Dalek Jeter

    I hope that isn’t the starting lineup for the season. I know that Gardner is a better hitter than both Roberts and Johnson…but I feel like his on-base skill is wasted with a complete unknown offensively and a low-average-medium-power guy hitting behind him. If Jeter’s staying in the two hole I’d much rather move Gardner down to the 9-hole.

    • BrianMcCannon

      Agreed; 7 is a weird spot for Gardy.

      • The Other Matt

        Yeah, I’d much rather see Kelly Johnson 7 and either Roberts/Gardner or Gardner/Roberts 8-9. I think everyone pretty much assumes with Jeter pencilled in for the 2 spot, that Gardner was headed for the 9 spot, with the pseudo double leadoff hitters with Gardner 9 and Ellsbury 1. I wouldn’t be adverse to seeing Gardner 8th and Roberts 9th though, since Roberts takes a lot of pitches and would give Gardner opportunities to run a bit.

    • Capo

      I initially felt the same way, but the more I think about it the more I like the 7-8-9. Soriano in the 6-spot makes sense, and he is very much an all-or-nothing hitter: K’s a ton but also tends to clear the bases when he makes good contact. Johnson isn’t a high average hitter that is going to start up a new rally, and also isn’t a high average guy either. This way, the 7-8-9 functions like a lesser version of what the 1-2-3 should be. Gardner (fake #1) is a guy who’ll get on base and has great speed. Roberts (fake #2) has good bat control and takes a lot of pitches so he’ll be useful in getting Gardner over or giving him the time to get himself into scoring position. Johnson (fake #3) has some power and can get the runners home. If Johnson fails with less than 2-outs, you then have another shot with a great hitter in Ellsbury. Obviously this is all in an ideal world where skills transfer to real-life perfectly, but I can definitely see some advantages to fashioning the 7-8-9 after a 1-2-3.

      • Dalek Jeter

        I’d much rather it be fashioned like an 8-9-1, where Johnson is an actual 8 hitter, Roberts as an actual 9th hitter, and Gardner is a secondary lead off man.

      • The Other Matt

        Tremendous insight Capo. I have to say that I do tend to side with your assessment after the reasons you pointed out.

  • The Other Matt

    I hope they get the game in, though I see some other Grapefruit League games have been cancelled already. Last spring game, with a lineup thats seems representative of the one we’ll see Opening Day.

  • Dalek Jeter

    I was just watching the mlb.tv feed. It’s pouring…I highly doubt there is a game today.

  • Mike myers

    It’s amazing how much better the lineup is over last year 1-9

    • Alkaline

      It truly is.

  • Wheels

    No way they’re playing this thing.

  • NCS

    Cancelled. And it was free on MLBtv today too. Sigh.

    • Alkaline

      That’s unfortunate.

  • Alkaline

    Any update on the Nunez situation? I’m intrigued they didn’t confirm his position yet.

    • Yankee$

      I suspect they are trying to work a deal. Fingers crossed they can pick up a young infielder to help for years.

      • Chip Rodriguez

        Just as long as Cashman doesn’t phone RAJ and inquire about Nix.

  • Reuben Sierra’s Chains

    That’s a wrap. Now starts the real journey towards #28. LEGGO!!

  • Cheval Anonyme

    Pretty clear the Yankees are in an active trade discussion right now, which will impact their choice for the final infield spot. Otherwise, they have enough information to decide Solarte vs. Nunez; the only thing holding them back would be a trade possibility. It doesn’t have to be a trade of one of the infielders; even a trade of another player that opens up a 40 man roster spot would impact the infield decision.

    • Cheval Anonyme

      If I were to pick a player that’s most likely to be traded before Opening Day, it would be Romine. The Yankees need to thin the herd at catcher, and Romine would have more use to another team (even as a third-string catcher) than to the Yankees. While Romine would not fetch a decent major league-ready player in return, he would be worth a decent lower-level prospect. And the Yankees need the roster flexibility to give them more in-season options for the infield and the bullpen. Obviously, it would be better to trade Ichiro, but I doubt there are any takers.

  • lou

    They were doing the post game report “actually rain out report” and they said that it’s tough for both sol and Nunez. David went onto say you don’t wanna make the wrong mistake and let one of these guys go but have you seen enough of sol to make that decision yet?

    Well the way I look at it the Yankees have seen plenty of Nunez “over the years ” so I would pick Sol and either cuz my ties or trade Nunez. The Yankees have seen enough of him to see what he is but they have not seen enough of Sol but you know what the kid did good this spring go for it.

    • Cheval Anonyme

      I’d be shocked if there were any trade-takers for Nunez.

  • The Other Matt

    Pirates just DFA’d reliever Vin Mazzaro. Posted a 2.81 ERA wiith a 3.31 FIP last season. Only 5.6 K/9 last year, but a 52% ground ball rate. Doubt the Yankees pick him up though, being that they chose to carry Nuno as a 2nd lefty over Matt Daley and Chris Leroux who performed well during the spring.

    • Joey Pinstripes

      Very surprised to see Mazzaro DFA’d, talented kid who finally figured it out as a reliever last year.

  • D$1184

    mlbtraderumors.com reporting Solarte is taking that last roster spot; Nunez is being optioned to AAA. I’m surprised.

    • Steve (different one)

      It’s the only way to keep the depth if Solarte has an opt-out….maybe they work out a minor deal for Claiborne or something.

      I personally don’t care which one got the spot because the roster will likely look different in 4 weeks. You could easily have Sizemore and Ryan instead of Anna/Solarte.

      But I get why they might want to keep Solarte around. Sucks for Nunez, but well, you know….he hasn’t exactly grabbed the opportunities he has had.