Austin Romine suffered setback of back injury

Via Mark Feinsand and Chad Jennings, Austin Romine has suffered a setback while attempting to recover from the back inflammation that has sidelined him for most of spring. He had resumed workouts not too long ago, but felt a “little pinch” at some point recently. The setback led to the Craig Tatum waiver claim. Romine dealt with a similar problem last season, so this is an obvious concern. Back problems are scary, and recurring back problems are even scarier.

Manny Banuelos’ new toy

Via Conor Foley, Manny Banuelos broke out a new cutter during his minor league start today. He’s been working on the pitch on the side, but today was the first time he used it in a game situation.

Guys like Andy Pettitte, Mark Buehrle, Kenny Rogers, Cliff Lee, Ted Lilly, John Danks, and Jamie Moyer are what I pathetically call Four-C lefties, meaning they rely on a cutter, changeup, curveball, and command. Those types of pitchers traditionally have a lot of success in the bigs and remain effective for as long as they stay healthy. If the cutter sticks, Banuelos is going to be cut from the same cloth, and that’s exciting.

Yankees claim Craig Tatum

The Yankees have claimed catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the Diamondbacks, the team announced. The 29-year-old is a no-hit, defense-first backstop. He’s produced a .256 wOBA in 299 big league plate appearances, most coming with the Orioles. He’s thrown attempted basestealers out at a 21% rate in the show and a 35% rate in the minors, but that doesn’t do his glovework justice. Tatum figures to be just a depth pickup given Austin Romine‘s persistent back trouble, but he is out of options and will have to pass through waivers to go to the minors. No corresponding 40-man roster move is needed.

Report: Astros, Orioles have interest in Maxwell

Via George King, both the Astros and Orioles have interest in Justin Maxwell. They have yet to call Brian Cashman about the right-handed hitting outfielder, however. Maxwell is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers, so the Yankees will have to decide what to do with him relatively soon. With Curtis Granderson (elbow) and Nick Swisher (knee) banged up, I’m sure they’re going to hold onto him for just a little bit longer.

ST Game Thread: Number Two Starter

(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

The writing had been on the wall all Spring Training, but yesterday Joe Girardi officially announced that Hiroki Kuroda will start the second game of the regular season behind CC Sabathia. The veteran right-hander has flown completely under the radar since joining the Yankees, but that will happen when you sign the same day the team trades Jesus Montero for Michael Pineda. Kuroda has been just as advertised so far, quietly effective and reliable. Can’t wait to see him in a game that matters. Here’s the lineup…

SS Eduardo Nunez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
DH Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
C Francisco Cervelli
CF Dewayne Wise
RF Chris Dickerson
LF Justin Maxwell

RHP Hiroki Kuroda

Available Pitchers: RHP Cory Wade, RHP Adam Warren, RHP George Kontos, LHP Juan Cedeno, LHP Cesar Cabral, RHP Cory Arbiso, RHP Ryan Flannery, and SwP Pat Venditte.

Available Position Players: C Gus Molina, 1B Addison Maruszak, 2B Jayson Nix, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Bill Hall, and LF Tyler Austin will replace the starters. C Mitch Abeita, IF Walt Ibarra, SS Cito Culver, and OF Abe Almonte also made the trip and are available if needed.

Today’s game starts at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on ESPN. We’re going to chat for the first few innings of today’s game, so join in the fun after the jump.

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Yankees sign Jack Cust

Via Sweeny Murti, the Yankees have signed Jack Cust to a minor league contract. The Astros released the 33-year-old left-handed slugger just yesterday. He gives them some decent Triple-A insurance in case Raul Ibanez‘s bat speed continues to be measurable on the Molina scale. It’s also a pretty clear indication that Russell Branyan’s back isn’t getting better anytime soon.

Cust has hit .251/.379/.441 against right-handers over the last three years, though he’s a classic three-true outcomes type. Nearly 50% of his plate appearances since the start of 2009 have ended with a homer, a walk, or a strikeout (49.3% to be exact). Cust has negative defensive value, capable of faking left field and first base on the rarest of occasions. He’s a DH all the way. Chances are we’ll see him get a few at-bats before the end of camp next week.

Update: MRI on Granderson’s sore elbow comes back negative

Wednesday: Via Marc Carig, Granderson’s MRI came back negative. And exhale. Figure the Yankees will give him an extra day or two of rest just to make sure he’s 100% before returning to game action.

Tuesday: Curtis Granderson was a late scratch from tonight’s lineup due to soreness in his right elbow, and Jack Curry says he will head for a precautionary MRI tomorrow. When asked about his level of concern, Brian Cashman said it was a two on a scale of 1-10. Granderson, if you remember, dealt with a sore oblique late in Spring Training last year but was ready for Opening Day and even hit the game-winning homer in the opener. Hopefully we get a repeat performance.