Open Thread: March 24th Camp Notes

The Yankees are playing the Rays at home this evening, and unfortunately there is no broadcast. No YES or Sun Sports, so no MLB Network or either. Baseball is taking place and we can’t watch. That’s a shame, even if it is only Spring Training.

CC Sabathia is starting tonight and you know, it would be nice if he had a clean outing, if only for everyone’s sanity. The Yankees say there’s a fifth starter’s competition, and if true, Sabathia had better start getting some outs. We’ll see. Here is the Gameday link. You can follow that way. Here are the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury (wrist) is not in tonight’s lineup as tentatively scheduled. He did take batting practice today and Joe Girardi said he wanted to wait one more day before putting him back into the lineup. Sounds like Ellsbury will play tomorrow. [Mark Feinsand, Bryan Hoch]
  • Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Masahiro Tanaka has to “get back to the basics” because he’s thinking too much about his mechanics. Tanaka was not in camp today because he has family in town, presumably his newborn son. He’s physically fine and will be back tomorrow. [Erik Boland]
  • Mariano Rivera is still hanging around camp as a guest instructor, by the way. And yes, he’s still shagging fly balls. Brendan Kuty has video. How many spring innings do you think Mo would need to be game ready? I say no more than ten.
  • Shane Hennigan posted the day’s minor league lineups. The Yankees have had Aaron Judge work with Reggie Jackson recently. “Getting better,” said Mr. October. [Jon Heyman]
  • The Yankees will play the Orioles tomorrow afternoon and, thankfully, that game will be on TV. It’s a rare YES road game. Only one of the spring. Ivan Nova is the scheduled starter.

This is tonight’s open thread. Both ESPN (Cubs vs. Giants at 7pm ET) and MLB Network (Dodgers vs. Indians at 10pm ET) are showing live games tonight. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are playing, plus the NCAA basketball tournament resumes tonight. Talk about those games, the unwatchable Yankees-Rays game, or anything else right here.

March 23rd Camp Notes: Ellsbury, Miller, Slade, Williams

The Yankees got spanked 13-0 by the Nationals earlier this evening. They committed four errors in the eighth inning alone, two by Cesar Puello. Ah, spring baseball. Masahiro Tanaka had his second straight rough outing, allowing seven runs on nine hits and a walk in four innings. He struck out three. Tanaka has one more Grapefruit League start to get things straightened out.

Not much happened offensively. Brett Gardner had two hits, and Dustin Ackley, Austin Romine, Rob Refsnyder, and Chris Denorfia had one each. Gardner also threw a runner out at the plate. This was some uninspired baseball. Here is the box score, here are the video highlights, and here are the day’s notes from Spring Training:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury (wrist) hit off a tee and soft toss today, and said he was “very happy” with the way things went. He is tentatively scheduled to play tomorrow, but he’s going to take batting practice first and they’ll see how he feels. [Chad Jennings, Erik Boland]
  • Michael Pineda threw his between-starts bullpen session and Andrew Miller threw a simulated inning. That’s notable because Miller pitched in last night game. This was his first time pitching back-to-back days this spring. [Jennings]
  • Slade Heathcott has a sore right (non-throwing) shoulder. It’s the kind of thing he could play through during the regular season, but there’s no reason to push it in March. Mason Williams (shoulder) is still taking batting practice and throwing from 90 feet. That’s all right now. Domingo German (elbow) has resumed throwing bullpens. [George King, Jennings]
  • Joe Girardi said “you could surmise” Tanaka will be the Opening Day starter. This is getting so silly that I assume it’s on purpose. Tanaka’s been lined up to start Opening Day since his first Grapefruit League appearance. [Ryan Hatch]
  • Shane Hennigan posted the day’s minor league lineups and workout groups, if you’re interested. Wilkerman Garcia is listed under rehabbing players for whatever reason. He was working out on the minor league side earlier in camp. Not sure what happened there.

The Yankees have another night game tomorrow, at home against the Rays. There is no broadcast for that game. CC Sabathia is the scheduled starter.

Spring Training Game Thread: Tanaka on the Road


Masahiro Tanaka is making the fourth of his five Grapefruit League starts this afternoon. He says he’s been struggling with fastball command this spring, which makes sense. He’s coming off surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow and command is usually the last thing to come back following elbow surgery. Tanaka has two starts to iron it out.

In other news, Austin Romine is starting behind the plate, which is pretty notable. Romine caught Nathan Eovaldi in a minor league game yesterday and he’s catching Tanaka today. He’s also batting higher in the lineup than Gary Sanchez. I’m not saying Romine’s definitely getting the backup catcher’s job, but there are more and more signs pointing in that direction with each passing week.

The Yankees made the long cross-state trip to Viera to play the Nationals this evening. As you can imagine, they didn’t bring many regulars. They’re not going to send guys on long bus trips this late in camp if at all possible. Here is the Nationals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. 2B Dustin Ackley
  4. C Austin Romine
  5. 1B Chris Parmelee
  6. DH Gary Sanchez
  7. 3B Rob Refsnyder
  8. RF Chris Denorfia
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Available Pitchers: RHP Johnny Barbato, RHP Luis Cessa, RHP Nick Goody, LHP Tyler Olson, RHP Nick Rumbelow, RHP Anthony Swarzak, LHP Tyler Webb, and RHP Matt Wotherspoon are all on the trip according to Chad Jennings. I’m not sure who is scheduled to pitch after Tanaka though.

Available Position Players: C Carlos Corporan, C Francisco Diaz, IF Deibinson Romero, IF Pete Kozma, IF Tyler Wade, IF Donovan Solano, IF Jose Rosario, OF Cesar Puello, OF Juan Silva, and OF Lane Adams are all on the trip, says Jennings. No idea who’s going to come off the bench to play.

Today’s game will begin just after 5pm ET and the internet tells me it is mostly sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s in Viera. There is no YES Network broadcast of today’s game, but you will be able to watch live on MLB Network and There is no blackout for either, so yes, you watch on MLB Network in New York. And also MASN if you live in the Nats’ home market. Enjoy the game, ladies and germs.

Open Thread: March 22nd Camp Notes

The Yankees and the Mets are playing tonight, and the pitching matchup is pretty great: Luis Severino vs. Steven Matz. That’s as good as it gets, even in Spring Training. The problem? We can’t watch. There’s no YES broadcast, no SNY broadcast, no MLB Network, no, nothing. That’s a bummer. Here is the Gameday link, so you can follow that way. Here are the day’s notes from Tampa:

This is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing the Dodgers and Royals later tonight, plus the Nets are playing as well. Talk about those games, tonight’s un-watchable Yankees-Mets game, or anything else right here.

Open Thread: March 21st Camp Notes

The Yankees had an off-day today and it was a complete off-day with no workouts scheduled on the Major League side. So, with no mini-game recap to share, I command you to read this Tyler Kepner article on the Big Three. That was one hell of a nostalgic read. RAB was just becoming a thing when it appeared Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and Joba Chamberlain were going to be the future of the rotation. Anyway, here is the little bit of news from Tampa:

  • The Yankees had Rob Refsnyder head to the minor league complex for more work at third base today. He went through infield drills with various coaches and instructors as the team tries to help him become more comfortable at the hot corner. [Brendan Kuty]
  • Luis Cessa threw his entire 30-pitch bullpen session from the stretch Sunday. Are the Yankees preparing him for a relief role? “No, I didn’t think he threw the ball well from the stretch the other day,” said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. [Fred Kerber, George King]
  • If you’re interested, here are the day’s minor league lineups (via Kuty). Jorge Mateo almost took a fastball to the face (video via Kuty), and James Kaprielian was 94-97 mph with an 87 mph slider during his start, a scout told Erik Boland.
  • The Yankees are playing the Mets at home tomorrow night. Luis Severino is the scheduled starter. Right now there is no broadcast for that game. Hopefully YES or SNY pick it up.

This is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing Reds-Padres live later tonight, and both the (hockey) Rangers and Islanders are playing as well. Talk about those games or whatever else right here.

Sorting through the 45 players the Yankees still have on their Spring Training roster

Mitchell. (Presswire)
Mitchell. (Presswire)

Two weeks from today, the Yankees will open the 2016 regular season at home against the Astros. There are a 14 exhibition games to be played between now and then, and several roster decisions have to be made as well. The Yankees have made two rounds of roster cuts so far, paring the number of players in big league camp from 70 down to 45. Another 20 still must go.

It goes without saying some of those 45 players have a much better chance to make the Opening Day roster than others. You’d be surprised to see how few have close to no chance to make the team though. The Yankees have only a few open roster spots but an awful lot of candidates to fill them. Let’s look over the 45 players still in big league camp and figure out where they fit going forward.

Definitely Making The Team (20)

These are the easiest calls, so we might as well start here. These 20 players will definitely be on the Opening Day roster:

Coming into the spring I would not have considered Shreve a lock for the bullpen, but it’s pretty safe to say he’s in right now. He’s been phenomenal in camp, he was awesome most of last year, and Joe Girardi is talking about him like one of his regular relievers. Shreve’s going to break camp with the Yankees.

The Yankees insist they are having a true competition for the fifth starter’s spot, though sending Sabathia to the bullpen so Nova can start is one of those “I’ll believe it when I see it” things. Maybe the Yankees will figure out a way to stick Sabathia on the DL rather than send him to the bullpen, though that would surprise me. I’m sticking with what I said last week: I don’t believe Sabathia is truly competing for a rotation spot. He’s in.

Very Likely To Make The Team (2)

In Bryan Mitchell and Rob Refsnyder, the Yankees have two young players who are forcing the issue with their Spring Training performances. Both saw time in the show last year and both came to camp on the roster bubble. Mitchell keeps throwing fire and getting outs while Refsnyder has shown he can actually handle third base, a position he never played prior to this spring.

“(Refsnyder at third base) been better than I expected, to be honest. He’s never been over to that side of the infield. His reactions are really good. His arm’s good,” said Brian Cashman to Meredith Marakovits recently (video link). The Yankees need a backup third baseman now that Castro will stick to second, and Refsnyder has taken to the position quickly. He hit in his limited time last year and he adds some balance as a righty hitter.

As for Mitchell, the Yankees do have three open bullpens, and none of the shuttle relievers have impressed this spring. He’s been by far the best of the team’s bullpen candidates, and Girardi has mentioned him as a potential Adam Warren replacement, meaning a multi-inning reliever. Mitchell pitched pretty well in relief last year before taking that line drive to the nose. I wouldn’t call him or Refsnyder locks for the Opening Day roster, but they sure look like strong candidates right now.

Hurt Or Suspended (3)

Three of the 45 players still in camp will not be on the active 25-man roster when the season begins. Aroldis Chapman has to serve his 30-game suspension, and both Greg Bird and Mason Williams will start the season on the DL following shoulder surgery. Bird’s going to be out for the year. We know that already. Williams is doing pretty much everything — throwing, hitting, etc. — but still needs more time to finish up his rehab.

There are some 40-man roster implications here. Chapman will be on the restricted list and will not count towards the 40-man roster while suspended. Bird can also be placed on the 60-day DL whenever a 40-man spot is needed. The 60-day DL is kinda weird though. Teams can only use it when they need it, meaning another player has to placed on the 40-man right away. Bird will likely start the season on the 15-day DL, then be transferred over whenever a 40-man spot is inevitably needed.

Pazos. (Presswire)
Pazos. (Presswire)

In The Mix For A Roster Spot (7)

This might as well be the shuttle reliever category. Johnny Barbato, Nick Goody, James Pazos, Branden Pinder, and Nick Rumbelow are all still in camp and they’re all on the 40-man roster. All but Barbato pitched in the big leagues last year too. Barbato has pitched the best during Grapefruit League play so far, which won’t hurt his case for the Opening Day roster. Then again, none of these guys have thrown more than seven innings this spring.

Based on everything I have above, five of the seven bullpen spots are claimed: Miller, Betances, Shreve, Mitchell, and Nova (or Sabathia). I honestly have no idea how those last two spots will shake out. I don’t even have an inkling which way the Yankees are leaning. Barbato has pitched well so far, though that doesn’t mean much. He’s got two weeks to make some mistakes. At the same time, the other guys have a chance to step up their game. The best way to describe the bullpen situation right now is: developing.

Austin Romine and Gary Sanchez are also in the mix for a roster spot. They’re competing for the backup catcher’s job, and right now I’d say it’s advantage Romine. Sanchez has not had a good spring (1-for-17) and over the weekend Girardi said he seems to be pressing. There’s also the service time issue (35 days in the minors delays Sanchez’s free agency a year) and the fact that Sanchez probably could use some more Triple-A time to work on his defense.

Out of these seven players, all but Romine will go to Triple-A if they don’t make the team. Romine’s out of options, so if he doesn’t make the Opening Day roster, he’ll go on waivers. And even if he clears, he can elect free agency. The Yankees can’t expect to keep him based on those conditions. That’s probably another reason Romine seems to be the favorite to back up McCann right now.

Oh Gosh, They Might Actually Make The Team (5)

Remember Chris Martin? He was that random offseason pickup no one really paid attention to last year, then bam, he was on the Opening Day roster. The five guys in this group are candidates to be this year’s Chris Martin. Here’s how they can make the team out of camp:

  • Chris Denorfia: Unlike most of the team’s depth outfielders, Denorfia hits right-handed and he has a lot of MLB experience. He strikes me as the top bench candidate should Ellsbury’s wrist injury linger.
  • Pete Kozma: What if the Yankees want to give Refsnyder some more Triple-A time to continue working at third? Kozma, a veteran utility man, is the annoyingly obvious alternative.
  • Tyler Olson: Having a very good spring and could fill one of the open bullpen spots. Olson is a true lefty specialist and Girardi sure does love his matchups.
  • Anthony Swarzak: Swarzak has been solid overall, and he’s another guy with MLB experience. The fact he can throw multiple innings may land him in the bullpen.
  • Kirby Yates: Quietly shoving this spring (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K) and he has big league time under his belt. With none of the shuttle guys standing put, Yates could grab a bullpen spot.

Yeah, you don’t have to try real hard to see one or two (or three) of these guys making the team, do you? It’s surprisingly easy, in fact. I swear, these guys just sneak up on you. You overlook them as cast-offs when they’re acquired, and before you know, they’re standing on the foul line and being introduced on Opening Day. Baseball, man.

Long Shots To Make The Team (8)

Never say never, but I am comfortable saying these last eight players are very unlikely to make the Opening Day roster. Catchers Carlos Corporan and Eddy Rodriguez remain in camp, though Girardi has dismissed them as backup catcher candidates. They’re still around so McCann, Romine, and Sanchez don’t have to catch every inning of every spring game. That’s all.

Chris Parmelee was signed to replace Bird as the Triple-A first baseman, so he’s going to Triple-A. The only way he makes the Opening Day roster is if Teixeira gets hurt. (I don’t think he’d make it if A-Rod got hurt. They’d use Beltran at DH in that case.) Ronald Torreyes had gotten a look at third base this spring and he’s been fine overall. At this point I think he’s behind Refsnyder and Kozma on the backup infield depth chart.

Kristen Orfia. (Presswire)
Kristen Orfia. (Presswire)

In addition to Denorfia, Slade Heathcott and Cesar Puello are the last remaining spare outfielders in camp. Heathcott has been brutal during Grapefruit League play (1-for-22!), and while that isn’t everything, I think it puts him behind Denorfia on the depth chart should Ellsbury stay hurt. Puello’s been great in camp, but this is a guy who played one game last season due to a back injury. I can’t see him sticking even if Ellsbury’s wrist problem lingers.

The last two arms in camp are Diego Moreno and Luis Cessa. The Yankees really like Cessa — Cashman in particular has talked him up — and he’s looked pretty good in his limited action. Those are the key words there, limited action. He’s appeared in only three Spring Training games, and if the Yankees were seriously considering Cessa for the roster, he’d get more looks. Pitching two innings once a week suggests he’s on the outside looking in. That’s fine. He could use more Triple-A time anyway.

The Yankees seem to like Moreno more than we realize — he’s been mentioned as a call-up candidate for two or three years now — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him again this summer. He is not on the 40-man roster right now, and he hasn’t pitched well in camp (six runs in 5.1 innings), so it seems safe to say Diego is way down on the Opening Day bullpen depth chart at the moment. The Yankees have too many other candidates.

* * *

With Opening Day two weeks away, it appears the Yankees have 22 of their 25 roster spots figured out. They need to pick a backup catcher and decide who will hold down the last two bullpen spots on a temporary basis. I assume those will be shuttle spots, with new guys cycling in and out as necessary, especially early in the season. The next round of roster cuts should be coming next weekend, and that may lend some clarity to the bullpen situation.

Open Thread: March 20th Camp Notes

The Yankees beat the Twins earlier today — some things never change, eh? — by the score of 6-4. Ivan Nova had a rocky outing, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks in 4.1 innings. He struck out two. Nova told Bryan Hoch he threw some cutters, a pitch he hasn’t used since before his Tommy John surgery. Bryan Mitchell came out of the bullpen and retired all eight men he faced.

Chase Headley was the only regular with a hit, though the Yankees didn’t send many big names to Fort Myers. Brett Gardner and Aaron Hicks each drew a walks. Hicks also threw a runner out at third. Kinda weird to see a Yankees outfielder who can throw, isn’t it? Ronald Torreyes had two hits and Cesar Puello whacked a home run off the bench. Here is the box score, here are the video highlights, and here is the latest news from Tampa:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury‘s wrist is still sore, unsurprisingly. He got hit “in a bad spot” and it will take a few days for the inflammation to go away. Joe Girardi said it’s unlikely Ellsbury plays before Thursday given the upcoming schedule (off-day and some road trips). [Mark Feinsand, David Lennon]
  • Early in camp, Carlos Beltran sat down with Luis Severino to give him some guidance about dealing with the pressure of being a highly touted young player at the MLB level. Pretty awesome. Remember, Beltran requested to be locker neighbors with Aaron Judge so he could mentor him this spring. [Kevin Kernan]
  • Girardi acknowledged Gary Sanchez may be pressing a bit this spring as he attempts to win the backup catcher’s job. “The first time you have an opportunity to make a club, I am sure there is a lot of excitement in that young man. We really believe he is going to be a really good player,” said the skipper. [George King, Fred Kerber]
  • The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow and it’s a complete off-day. No workouts or anything. They return to action with a night game against the Mets on Tuesday. Severino is scheduled to start. Right now there is no broadcast scheduled. We’ll see if YES or SNY pick it up. [Ryan Hatch]

This is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing the Royals and Cubs live right now, then they’ll show games on tape delay all throughout the night. The Knicks and Devils are both playing later, and of course you have all the March Madness action. Talk about those games or anything else right here. Don’t be a jerk.