March 31st Camp Notes: Green, Adams, Montgomery, Lineup

At long last, Spring Training is over. The Yankees wrapped up their exhibition schedule tonight with a loss to the Braves at SunTrust Park. Gary Sanchez had the first (unofficial) hit in the ballpark’s history and Greg Bird had the first (unofficial) homer. Georgia boy Dustin Fowler drove in two with a rocket into the gap. Watch the video above. That kid can really lay into the ball when he gets something to hit.

Michael Pineda got the start and allowed three runs, all on a Freddie Freeman homer, in five innings. He struck out six and walked one in his final tune-up outing. Joe Girardi used a small army of relievers out of the bullpen. It was one of those “everyone gets to pitch!” exhibition games. The Yankees went 24-9-1 this spring. I believe I heard the YES broadcast say that is tied for the most spring wins in franchise history. Correct me if I’m wrong. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here is the rest of the day’s notes:

  • The Yankees announced Chad Green has been optioned to Double-A Trenton while Kyle Higashioka and Ben Heller were optioned to Triple-A Scranton. Green is going to Trenton so he and Jordan Montgomery, who is in Triple-A, can start the same days and both be lined up for the first time the Yankees need a fifth starter.
  • Chance Adams will start the season in Double-A, not Triple-A. That surprises me, though I don’t think this is a long-term thing. He’ll be in Scranton soon enough. The Yankees probably have some developmental benchmark they want him to hit before a promotion. [Josh Norris]
  • Right-hander Mark Montgomery has been released. He was a pretty big deal a few years ago. Relief pitcher prospects, man. Can’t trust ’em. Montgomery has already landed on his feet though — he’s signed with the Cardinals. [Josh Norris]
  • Tyler Webb did not make the Pirates as a Rule 5 Draft pick. He’ll go on waivers and be offered back to the Yankees should he go unclaimed. Because he’s a lefty with some Triple-A success, some team might grab him on waivers. [Adam Berry]
  • And finally, Girardi confirmed tonight’s lineup will be the Opening Day lineup. That means Sanchez second and Jacoby Ellsbury fifth. We’ll see how long it lasts. [Andrew Marchand]

That’s it, folks. Spring Training is over. The Yankees are heading back to Tampa to start the regular season against the Rays. Saturday is an off-day and Sunday is the season opener. That’s a 1pm ET start. Masahiro Tanaka vs. Chris Archer is the Opening Day pitching matchup.

Open Thread: March 30th Camp Notes

The Yankees celebrated the end of the Grapefruit League season with another win today. They scored nine runs in the top of the first. Gary Sanchez smacked a three-run home run and Ronald Torreyes followed with a two-run shot in the second. Look at Toe getting in on the act. He’s ready for the regular season. Greg Bird drew three walks, including two in that big first inning. Rashad Crawford came off the bench late to smack a two-run homer.

Luis Severino started and really labored through the first inning — he had no idea where the ball was going, none whatsoever — but he settled down and was fine after that. He allowed one run on five hits and one walk in five innings, striking out four. Adam Warren and Tyler Clippard each closed out their spring with a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees have essentially finalized their Opening Day roster. Severino will be the fourth starter, Aaron Judge will be the right fielder, and Pete Kozma will be the utility infielder. They just need to make a move to get Kozma on the 40-man roster now.
  • Both Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green are lined up for the fifth starter’s spot. Montgomery will start April 6th and 11th with Triple-A Scranton while Green will start those same days with Double-A Trenton. That allows both to be ready for April 16th, the first day the Yankees will need their fifth starter. [Billy Witz]
  • CC Sabathia threw in a Triple-A game today rather than make the road trip this afternoon. He allowed eight runs on nine hits in four innings. Meh. Also, after being send down earlier today, Rob Refsnyder used one word to explain what he has to do to stick with the Yankees for good: “Rake.” [Erik Boland, Brendan Kuty]
  • Here is the early season plan for Gleyber Torres: three games at shortstop, two at third base, and one at second base each week. I assume the seventh day will be either a DH day or an off-day. Torres has never played third base in a professional game, though the Yankees had him work out there this spring. [Buster Olney]
  • Josh Norris has the day’s minor league lineups as well as video of Blake Rutherford hitting a home run. A left-handed hitter with a sweet swing wearing No. 23? I approve.
  • The Yankees wrap up the exhibition schedule tomorrow. They’ll be in Atlanta to face the Braves at brand new SunTrust Park. The game will begin at 7:30pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. Michael Pineda is the scheduled starter.

Here is the nightly open thread. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on MLB Network at 6am ET, if you’re planning to be up early tomorrow. My recommendation: watch the top of the first and skip the rest of the game. MLB Network will have other games either live or on tape delay all night. The Nets and Islanders are both playing as well, so talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Reminder: Don’t forget to vote in our Prospect Watch poll. Voting ends at 12pm ET tomorrow.

Spring Training Game Thread: Final Grapefruit League Game

So long, Tampa. (Presswire)
So long, Tampa. (Presswire)

This afternoon the Yankees are playing their final Grapefruit League game of the year. They still have one exhibition game remaining, tomorrow night at the brand new SunTrust Field in Atlanta, but this is the final game in Florida. Well, at least until the Yankees come back to play the first series of the regular season against the Rays at Tropicana Field. Just can’t escape Tampa, huh?

What to watch today? Well, Luis Severino for one. The Yankees unofficially announced their Opening Day roster this morning and Severino will be the fourth starter to begin the season. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the fourth starter all season. He’ll have to pitch well to keep the job, because there are other guys waiting for their chance. Either way, it would be nice to see Luis end the spring on a high note. Here is the Phillies’ lineup and here are the players the Yankees sent across the bay to Clearwater:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 1B Greg Bird
  4. DH Chris Carter
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. LF Aaron Hicks
  7. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Pete Kozma
    RHP Luis Severino

Available Pitchers: RHP Adam Warren, RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP Ernesto Frieri, RHP J.R. Graham, and RHP Matt Marsh are all expected to pitch. LHP Joe Mantiply, LHP Jason Gurka, LHP Nestor Cortes, and LHP Caleb Frare are all up from minor league camp to serve as the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Wilkin Castillo, 1B Mike Ford, 2B Thairo Estrada, SS Cito Culver, 3B Miguel Andujar, LF Clint Frazier, CF Dustin Fowler, and RF Rashad Crawford will be the second string off the bench. C Radley Haddad, C Jorge Saez, SS Kyle Holder, and OF Billy McKinney are the extra players. Everyone is up from minor league camp for the day.

The internet tells me it is sunny and warm in Clearwater this afternoon. Pretty much perfect baseball weather. The game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and if you’re in the Philadelphia market, you can watch today’s game on TCN. If not, MLB.tv is your only option. Enjoy the game.

Open Thread: March 29th Camp Notes

The Yankees are officially Spring Training champions. They clinched baseball’s best record this spring with their win this afternoon. Neat. The Yankees are now 23-8-1 while the second place Cardinals are 20-8-4. Both teams have two games to play. Aaron Judge had two singles this afternoon and he even stole a base. So did Aaron Hicks, who drew a walk but did not have a hit. Ronald Torreyes doubled and Starlin Castro tripled.

Jordan Montgomery started and was solid again, allowing one run on six hits and a walk in five innings. He struck out four. Folks in attendance tell me Montgomery did give up quite a bit of hard contact, however. Ben Heller tossed two scoreless innings. He’s allowed one run in 13 innings this spring, though he also walked eight. That’s not good. Here is the box score. The game wasn’t televised, so there are no video highlights. Here are the rest of the notes from Spring Training:

  • Brian Cashman confirmed the Yankees have made a decision about their fourth starter. They just won’t tell us who it will be yet. As for the fifth starter, they’ll figure that out later. They Yankees will use off-days to skip their fifth starter the first two times through the rotation, and carry an eighth reliever instead. Joe Girardi added Luis Severino is not going to the bullpen. “We have an idea of what we’re going to do with him for the most part,” said the skipper. [Michael Kay, Bryan Hoch]
  • Earlier today the Yankees announced Tyler Wade has been sent to minor league camp. That means either Pete Kozma (yup) or Rob Refsnyder (nope) will get Didi Gregorius‘ open roster spot. Also, Kyle Higashioka‘s locker has been cleaned out, though the Yankees have not yet officially announced he’s been sent out. There are still 34 players in big league camp. [Erik Boland]
  • Still no word on the right field job. Girardi acknowledged the Yankees are still considering sending Judge to Triple-A. “He needs to play. That’s the bottom line,” said Girardi. I’m not sure what more Judge needs to do this spring. He’s hitting .345/.406/.569 with a 20.3% strikeout rate. [Hoch]
  • The Yankees will play their final Grapefruit League game tomorrow afternoon. Severino is starting and the game will be on MLB.tv.

This is the open thread for the night. MLB Network is showing a spring game on tape delay later tonight and the Knicks are the only local team in action. Not much to see tonight. Talk about anything but religion and politics here. Just don’t be a jerk.

Self-Promotion: I was on Eric Roseberry’s On Baseball Writing podcast, so check that out even though I am the most boring person in the world.

March 28th Camp Notes: Lineup, Ellsbury, Warren, Torreyes

The Yankees lost tonight, in their final home game of the Grapefruit League season. Aaron Judge clocked a solo home run as he continues to battle for the right field job. Tyler Wade also had a single, though his chances of making the Opening Day roster aren’t nearly as good as Judge’s. Gary Sanchez had a hit and a walk, and he also made an error. So did Greg Bird.

Earlier tonight I noted Masahiro Tanaka was four outs away from tying 2014 Justin Verlander for the most innings thrown in a scoreless spring since at least 2006, and it took exactly two batters for him to allow a run tonight. Single, double, run. That’s how the game started. My bad, yo. Tanaka finished the night with two runs allowed (one earned) in five innings. He struck out six. Dellin Betances came out of the bullpen and allowed a two-run homer. Here is the box score for tonight’s game. It wasn’t televised, so there are no video highlights. Here are the rest of the day’s notes from Spring Training:

  • Interestingly enough, Joe Girardi said tonight’s lineup could “very well could be similar” to the Opening Day lineup. The top of the lineup was, in order, Brett Gardner, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, Matt Holliday, Jacoby Ellsbury. Girardi said he likes Ellsbury in the fifth spot because he’s done well in RBI situations — he hit .298/.372/.442 (117 wRC+) with runners in scoring position last year — and has some pop. [Erik Boland, Brendan Kuty]
  • Girardi also said Adam Warren will begin the season in the bullpen (surprise surprise) and that they still haven’t made a decision about right field. The Yankees are learning toward Ronald Torreyes at shortstop though. I’d bet on Pete Kozma being the utility infielder in that case. I doubt they would let Wade sit on the bench like that. [Boland, Bryan Hoch]
  • Welcome back Jon Niese and Caleb Smith. Niese has signed a new minor league contract with the Yankees after being released a few days ago. It was reported the plan is to send Niese to Extended Spring Training to build arm strength. Smith, meanwhile, was returned by the Cubs as a Rule 5 Draft pick. [George King]
  • The starting pitchers the rest of the week: Jordan Montgomery (Wednesday), Luis Severino (Thursday), and Michael Pineda (Friday). I imagine that means CC Sabathia is throwing a simulated game either Wednesday or Thursday. He’s starting the second game of the regular season and Pineda is starting the third. [Hoch]
  • Shane Hennigan has the day’s minor league lineups, if you’re interested in such things. The minor league regular season will begin next Thursday, April 6th. Can’t wait.

Only three games left this spring! The Yankees will be on the road to take on the Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon. There’s no broadcast for that one, but, on the bright side, it will be the final Yankees game you can’t watch this year. Thursday’s and Friday’s game will be available either online or on television.

Open Thread: March 27th Camp Notes

The Yankees had an off-day today, their second and final off-day of the Grapefruit League season. The regular season is a little more than five days away now. Can’t wait. Here are the day’s notes:

Here is the open thread. MLB Network will show the Indians and Cubs live later tonight, plus the Knicks and Islanders are playing. Talk about those games or anything else here, just not religion or politics.

Sorting out the 35 players the Yankees still have in big league camp

Bird and Judge. (Presswire)
Bird and Judge. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only six days away, and at this point the Yankees still have nearly a full 40-man roster worth of players in big league camp. They have 35 players in camp and the World Baseball Classic is part of the reason. Some players, like Donovan Solano, have been in camp without actually being in camp these last few weeks. The Yankees and every other team needed the extra bodies while players were away at the WBC.

All throughout this week the Yankees will cut down their roster as they prepare for Opening Day on Sunday. It’s late in camp, so not only will the big league players start playing a full nine innings and back-to-back days, the minor leagues need to do that too. There’s only so much playing time to go around, and at this point of the spring, it’s time for clubs to emphasize their MLB roster players.

Earlier today the Yankees reassigned Solano, Wilkin Castillo, and Ruben Tejada to minor league camp, meaning there are now 35 players remaining in the big league Spring Training. Let’s take stock of those 35 players and figure out where they fit into the Opening Day roster equation. Some will definitely make it, some definitely won’t, and a whole bunch of guys are on the bubble. Let’s get to it.

Definitely Making The Team (19)

Might as well start here since this is our easiest and largest roster group. These are the players we know will be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity.

Any doubt about Bird making the Opening Day roster was erased when he was named the starting first baseman last week. It was plenty fair to wonder whether he’d need some time to Triple-A to regain his strength and/or timing after missing the entire 2016 season with shoulder surgery, but he’s crushing the ball this spring. No doubts about him now. Everyone else is pretty straightforward, right? Right.

Very Likely To Make The Team (3)

This group includes three players who are not a lock to make the Opening Day roster, but are in prime position to make the club out of Spring Training. The three players: Aaron Judge, Bryan Mitchell, and Luis Severino. Judge has had a strong camp to date. I’m not sure what else the Yankees could want to see from him, though I still don’t think the right field job is 100% his right now. Hicks has played well this spring. (Like he does every spring. Career .303/.365/.521 hitter in Spring Training!)

Mitchell and Severino are both competing for a rotation spot, though I think they’re on the roster either way, starter or reliever. Mitchell won a bullpen spot in camp last year and he hasn’t really done anything to not deserve a roster spot since. I still think Severino is the odds on favorite to get one of the open rotation spots. I’m also not convinced he’ll go to Triple-A should he not get a starting spot. The chances of Severino making the Opening Day roster in some capacity sure seem pretty darn high to me. He’s not a lock, but the odds are in his favor.

Injured (2)

Baseball can be cruel. The Yankees lost both Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin to injury this spring, and while neither suffered a severe long-term injury, they are going to miss the first several weeks of the regular season. Austin fouled a pitch off his foot and broke a bone. He could return to game action in mid-April. Gregorius strained his shoulder making a throw and could be out until May. Yuck. Both Austin and Didi are disabled list bound to begin the regular season.

In The Mix For A Roster Spot (7)

Wade. (Presswire)
Wade. (Presswire)

Most players in this group will be shuttle pitchers. Chad Green is competing with Severino and Mitchell (and Warren, I guess) for the two open rotation spots, and I feel the Yankees are much more willing to send him to Triple-A rather than stash him in the bullpen. Jordan Montgomery has impressed in camp, so much so that Joe Girardi is talking about him as a possible Opening Day roster option. Can’t say I expected to have him in this group at the outset of Spring Training.

Aside from Green and Montgomery, the other three pitchers in this group are all relievers: Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder, and Chasen Shreve. We will inevitably see those guys in the Bronx at some point this season, though I’d say it’s less than 50/50 they’re on the Opening Day roster. Heller probably has the best chance to win a job out of camp. He’s had a fine spring and is, in my opinion, the best bullpen prospect in the organization.

Rob Refsnyder, who has been mentioned as a trade candidate at times this spring, didn’t have much of a chance to make the Opening Day roster at coming into the spring. Then Austin and Gregorius got hurt which, if nothing else, opened the door for Refsnyder a little bit. His inability to play shortstop hurts him, obviously. The Yankees would have to be comfortable using Castro at shortstop.

An unexpected Opening Day roster candidate is Tyler Wade, who has played well this spring and could get a look at shortstop while Gregorius is sidelined. The question is whether the Yankees want to tie up a long-term 40-man roster spot — the veteran non-roster infielders in camp can be dropped off the 40-man roster as soon as Gregorius returns, but Wade will be on the 40-man for good — so Wade can fill-in for a month. I have him in this group for a reason though. I think it’s possible the Yankees go with him at short while Didi is out.

Oh Geez, They Might Actually Make The Team (3)

It happens every year, doesn’t it? Some random player you forgot the Yankees acquired shows up to camp, performs well, and before you know it, he’s on the Opening Day roster. Kirby Yates did it last year. Chris Martin the year before. Cody Eppley a few years before that. You never see it coming with these guys. Here are this year’s candidates, listed alphabetically:

  • Ernesto Frieri: The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal two weeks ago, which suggests they were impressed by the way he threw with Colombia during the WBC.
  • J.R. Graham: Graham recently had a three-run disaster outing, but eight of his ten Grapefruit League appearances have been scoreless. Ten strikeouts and two walks in 9.1 innings too.
  • Pete Kozma: Kozma’s chances of making the Opening Day roster improved with the news of the Gregorius injury as well as the Solano and Tejada demotions. He’s a candidate to help fill in either at shortstop or as the utility infielder.

With Gregorius hurt and two open bullpen spots, I’d put the chances of at least one of these five players making the Opening Day roster at: annoyingly high. My money is on Frieri making it. He’s looked pretty darn during the World Baseball Classic and with the Yankees, plus his experience as a Proven Closerâ„¢ will work in his favor.

Esmil Rog ... I mean Ernesto Frieri. (Presswire)
Esmil Rog … I mean Ernesto Frieri. (Presswire)

Long Shot To Make The Team (1)

The Yankees reassigned their very best prospects to minor league camp last week, which took some of the excitement out of the remaining Grapefruit League games. It was that time of the spring though. The kids have to go get ready for their seasons. The at-bats aren’t there any more in the big league camp. The regulars are going to play and play a lot this week.

The final player still in big league camp is catcher Kyle Higashioka. He is No. 3 on the catcher depth chart, which means he is heading to Triple-A Scranton until someone gets hurts or rosters expand in September, whichever comes first. Higashioka’s only chance to make the big league roster out of Spring Training involved and injury to Sanchez or Romine, and, thankfully, the Yankees have stayed healthy behind the plate.