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.

The New Second Baseman [2016 Season Preview]

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have committed to a youth movement over the last 18 months or so, though they’ve done it in a unique way. Sure, they’re bringing up their own prospects from the minors and giving them a chance, but they’ve also traded for young players who fell out of favor with their former teams for whatever reason. Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, and Dustin Ackley were all acquired that way. Aaron Hicks too.

The most-notable and perhaps the riskiest such acquisition came at the Winter Meetings in December, when the Yankees shipped Adam Warren (and Brendan Ryan!) to the Cubs for Starlin Castro. Castro’s young and he’s had some very good seasons in his career. The Yankees also gave up a very valuable piece in Warren, someone Joe Girardi called “as big as any pitcher that we have in that room” last October.

The Castro trade was the first time the Yankees gave away a player they’re really, truly going to miss in one of these out of favor trades. Yeah, you could have argued they would really miss Shane Greene at the time of the Gregorius trade, but Greene was not nearly as established as Warren. Warren has been getting big outs for the Yankees for a few years now, and he’s been doing it in a variety of roles. That was a big piece of depth to give up.

Brian Cashman & Co. saw Starlin as too good to pass up, however. He’s 25 years old — Castro turns 26 this Thursday — with strong defensive chops at second base, offensive promise, and a team-friendly contract that can max out at $53M over the next five seasons. Those types of players rarely become available, and when they do, the asking price is usually much higher than an Adam Warren type. Warren will be missed, no doubt about it, but this was a deal the Yankees had to make.

Castro’s first impression has been great — he is 12-for-27 (.444) with two dingers so far this spring — though we all know Grapefruit League numbers don’t mean much, if anything. I guess it’s better than struggling in camp. After the trade Starlin instantly became part of what the Yankees hope is their next core, along with Gregorius, Luis Severino, Dellin Betances, Greg Bird, and some others. What does 2016 have in store? Let’s preview.

So Which Castro Will The Yankees Get?

There’s a reason the Cubs made Castro available. They didn’t trade him out of the kindness of their heart. Starlin’s stock has dipped in recent years because his offense has gone backwards since his promising debut back in 2010. Here is his wRC+ by year. Remember, 100 is league average and the higher the number, the better.

2010: 99
2011: 109
2012: 100
2013: 74
2014: 117
2015: 80

A 99 wRC+ at age 20 then a 109 wRC+ at age 21 is the kind of stuff you see from future stars. Not many players produce at that clip at such a young age, especially middle infielders. Since then Castro has had one league average year, one well-above-average year, and two well-below-average years. He barely outproduced Stephen Drew (76 wRC+) last season.

Last year Castro hit .265/.296/.375 overall, though it was split into .236/.271/.304 (53 wRC+) in 435 plate appearances as the starting shortstop, and .353/.374/.588 (161 wRC+) in 143 plate appearances as the starting second baseman. Small sample noise? Possibly. There were also adjustments made, however. Castro said he worked with Chicago’s hitting coaches to close his stance during his four days on the bench between going from short to second:

Starlin Castro stance

“Just moved my front leg,” said Castro to Meredith Marakovits over the winter (video link). “I think my front leg was just too open and I just tried to pull the ball. That’s why at the beginning of the season, I hit a lot of ground balls to third and to short. It’s not the type of player that I am. I just always hit the ball to the middle and right field. The adjustment that I did, I just closed the stance a little bit more and that helped me a lot to drive the ball to the opposite way.”

That numbers don’t show a drastic change in Castro’s batted ball direction — he had a 41.2% pull rate with the open stance and a 39.2% pull rate with the closed stance last year, so it wasn’t that big a difference — but he did hit the ball substantially harder. His open stance hard contact rate was 21.6%, which is far below the 28.6% league average. With the closed stance it was a 29.2% hard contact rate, right in line with a 29.1% hard contact rate he had during his 117 wRC+ season in 2014. Here are Castro’s average exit velocities by zone, via the intimidatingly great Baseball Savant:

Starlin Castro exit velocities

Starlin was only able to really drive pitches middle-away with his open stance last year. Once he closed it up in August, Castro was able to do a better job pulling his hands in to get to that inside pitch. We have to be aware that this is a small sample of data — again, he only had 143 plate appearances once he moved to second and closed his stance — though for that limited bit of data, Castro closed a hole in his swing on the inner half.

There is also definitely something to be said for having confidence and being comfortable on the field. That can absolutely impact performance. In Chicago, Castro was the guy for a long time. The Cubs won 97 games and were swept in the NLDS in 2008. They won only 83 games in 2009 and missed the postseason. Castro debuted in 2010, a 75-win season, and he was the face of the team’s rebuild. He was the next great Cub, and his success from 2010-11 only added more pressure. That’s a lot to take in at a young age.

With the Yankees, Castro is just one of the guys. Yeah, he’s very important in the long-term, but this season he’s going to hit near the bottom of the lineup and only be expected to help the offense, not carry it. This is a fresh start and of course he wants to impress his new team and his new fans. He’s not expected to be the face of the franchise though. Castro’s coming in with a clean slate and that can be a very good thing mentally.

We’ve seen the raw talent — Starlin hit a ball over the friggin’ batter’s eye last week (video) — and this is a player who is one season removed from a .292/.339/.438 (117 wRC+) batting line. The Yankees would sign up for that in a second. Castro is young, he has natural ability, he appeared to close a hole in his swing late last year, and now he no longer has to be The Man in the lineup. Those are all positives. Last year was rough overall. Now Starlin has a fresh start.

Second Base, Not Third

Cashman talked about trying Castro at third base as soon as the trade was made, though that plan was short-lived. The Yankees pulled the plug before he even had a chance to play a Spring Training game at the hot corner. He did nothing more than work out there in infield drills. That’s probably for the best. Castro is still learning second base, after all. He only played 258 innings there last year.

After spending his entire big league career at shortstop, Starlin said everything felt “backwards” once he moved to the other side of the bag, though he added it only took a handful of games to get comfortable. The numbers at second (+2 DRS and -0.8 UZR) are useless given the sample size, so we don’t have much reliable data. This play from earlier this month …

… shows that if nothing else, Castro has range and a strong arm, which you’d expect from an ex-shortstop. Can he make use of that range and arm consistently? That’s the big question. How is his double play pivot? Turning two at the bag is totally different as a second baseman than it is as a shortstop. The shortstop can see the play develop in front of him. The second baseman has to go in blind with the runner at his back.

“(His defense) will be significantly better because of the athleticism and putting Castro at second base, he has the ability to be a very good defensive player. Second base is a little easier for a guy like him,” said one scout to George King. Keith Law also said he would bet Castro is “above-average to plus” at second base. So if nothing else, there are two people on Earth who believe Starlin has the tools for be a real asset defensively on the right side of second base.

There are reasons to believe Castro will be a very good defender at second base, if not right away then in time, as he gains experience. I’m guessing we’ll see a wide range out of plays at second this year. Some truly spectacular plays and some goofs on routine plays, perhaps because Castro is still learning the nuances at second. The early returns at second last season were generally promising, both defensively and offensively. The Yankees want their new second baseman to build on that in 2016.

Fan Confidence Poll: March 21st, 2016

Spring Record: 8-9-2 (71 RS, 85 RA)
Spring Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Mets (Tues.), @ Nationals (Weds. on MLBN, MLB.tv), vs. Rays (Thurs.), @ Orioles (Fri. on YES, MLB.tv), @ Blue Jays (Sat. on MLB.tv), vs. Twins (Sun. on YES, MLBN, MLB.tv)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

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.

Spring Training Game Thread: Fifth Starter Competition Continues

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

The fifth starter competition continues this afternoon, assuming there actually is a fifth starter competition. Ivan Nova is making his fourth Grapefruit League start, and he is likely scheduled for something like five innings or 75 pitches today. Ivan has pitched well this spring and that’s pretty much all he can do if he wants to force the Yankees to make a tough decision. I have a hard time believing they’d go with Nova over CC Sabathia, but we’ll see.

The Yankees are on the road in Fort Myers to play the Twins this afternoon. It’s a two-hour ride, so most of the regulars are back at home in Tampa. Here is the Twins’ lineup — former Yankee/serial killer John Ryan Murphy is starting and batting eighth — and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Brian McCann
  4. 3B Chase Headley
  5. 1B Dustin Ackley
  6. DH Chris Denorfia
  7. SS Pete Kozma
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. RF Ben Gamel
    RHP Ivan Nova

Available Pitchers: RHP Bryan Mitchell is scheduled to follow Nova, according to Fred Kerber and George King. He and Nova might be the only pitchers used today since they’re both pretty stretched out. RHP Anthony Swarzak is on the trip as well, says Rhett Bollinger.

Available Position Players: Bollinger says Chris Parmelee and Deibinson Romero made the trip as well. Not sure who else is there.

It is pretty cloudy in Fort Myers and there’s some rain in the forecast this afternoon, though not a ton. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and there is no YES or MLB Network broadcast. If you’re in the Twins’ home market, you can watch on FOX Sports North. Otherwise MLB.tv is your only option. Enjoy the game, folks.

Weathering the Storm

Jacoby Ellsbury HBP

Looking back on my sports day yesterday, I’m realizing it was fraught with disaster-potential. In the afternoon, Jacoby Ellsbury left the game after being plunked in the right wrist. Later last night, my UConn Huskies bowed out of the NCAA Tournament, bested and humbled by the superior Kansas Jayhawks. Given the Ellsbury, HBP, the Huskies’ loss could’ve been the cherry on top of a very crappy sundae; instead, since that Ellsbury’s x-rays were negative, the basketball game was the sundae itself. Regardless of food metaphors, the HBP got me thinking about the Yankees and the lineup depth they’ll likely have to tap into at some point during the season if/when someone or multiple someones go down with a long-term injury.

(Jon Durr/Getty)
(Jon Durr/Getty)

Up the middle, the Yankees are actually in fairly good shape. Should Didi Gregorius go down, the (somewhat) newly acquired Starlin Castro can move over from his new home at second base to his old one at shortstop. While this leaves a hole at second base–one that could otherwise be created by a Castro injury–the Yankees have an assortment of options: Dustin Ackley, Rob Refsnyder, and even Ronald Torreyes, if he’s still around. None of those options are ideal, mind you, for various reasons. Ackely probably ‘is what he is,’ as they say, at this point of his career, but he’s a lefty hitter in Yankee Stadium, now for a full season. That always has the potential for fireworks. Refsnyder may not be defensively graceful, but there’s upside in his bat. Even Torreyes–who only has a handful of ML plate appearances–has some potential to tap into; he’s a career .298 hitter in the minors and has a strikeout rate under 7%. The impact on the batting lineup would be fairly minimal in this case. Both Castro and Gregorius figure to be bottom-of-the-order hitters anyway, and their potential replacements would be as well. Those replacements also have hitting profiles that are similar to those of Starlin and Didi, further mitigating any wrinkles.

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

Moving inward, the Yankees have Gary Sanchez in waiting should Brian McCann go down. It feels like we’ve been waiting on Sanchez to take over at catcher forever, and this is the year that we could get it. Granted, it’ll be bittersweet should it happen at McCann’s expense. McCann is still a middle-of-the-order hitter, and an injury here would upset things. Chase Headley would likely move up into the sixth spot with Sanchez slotting in behind him. Sanchez, though, as big power potential and if things broke right, he could find himself in a more meaningful spot.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

In the outfield, Aaron Hicks provides upside and insurance at all three spots and Brett Gardner is a more-than-capable center field option should Jacoby Ellsbury go down. Additionally, the Yankees have Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, and Ben Gamel on the 40-man roster to fill in on the bench. Dustin Ackley can also play the corners if necessary. This is where potential lineup disturbances will have the most impact. All three regular outfielders–Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Carlos Beltran–bat at the top of the order. Even with some upside left–and success against lefties–Hicks likely isn’t a top-of-the-order bat, and neither are the other potential fill ins. If an outfielder sustains an injury, I’m guessing Starlin Castro shoots up to hit in the two hole.

Rob Refsnyder
(Getty)

The corner infield spots present a big challenge for the Yankees in terms of depth. Greg Bird‘s injury leaves them without a true backup option at first base and aside from Chase Headley, the Yankees don’t really have anyone strong at third, having abandoned the Castro At the Corner experiment already. Refsnyder has been taking reps there, which is probably his best shot to make the team out of Spring Training. This is much less ideal than Ref filling in at second, where he’s already shaky defensively despite some experience there.

Should Teixeira be injured for a long period of time, I’d imagine we’ll see Chase Headley march across the diamond to play first, unless the Yankees opt to keep Chris Parmalee around and bring him up. That might actually be the better option. While Refsnyder has more upside and moving Headley would get Ref on the field, Parmalee has shown some degree of Major League success and using him allows for keeping Headley where he’s comfortable and most effective.

An injury to Alex Rodriguez would likely mean a rotation of players–Tex, McCann, and Beltran–into the DH spot with fill-ins at their vacated positions–Hicks in the outfield; McCann at first, perhaps; Sanchez and/or Austin Romine at catcher.

An old team like the Yankees needs to have depth. Despite not doing any shopping on the Major League free agent market, the Yankees do seem to have a fair amount of depth at most positions. No one wants injuries to happen, but they most certainly will. There might be some dropoffs, but it appears the Yankees have set themselves up to not fall off of a cliff when their mainstays get hurt.

Update: X-rays negative after Jacoby Ellsbury takes pitch to the right wrist

5:49pm ET: X-rays and a CT scan on Ellsbury’s wrist were negative, the Yankees announced. Negative is good! Ellsbury has two weeks and one day to get over any lingering soreness before the start of the regular season.

4:13pm ET: The Yankees say Ellsbury was hit in the wrist and he is heading for x-rays.

3:59pm ET: Jacoby Ellsbury left today’s game after being hit by a pitch in his right hand or wrist in the fifth inning. It might have even hit his forearm. It was in that general area. Here’s the pitch:

Ellsbury was in obvious pain and Joe Girardi pointed him right to the clubhouse, which was no surprise. They’re always going to play it safe with something like in Spring Training. No sense in lobbying to stay in.

The Yankees have not yet released an update on Ellsbury but we’ll get one soon enough. I’m sure he’s headed for x-rays and all that. Those pitches to the hand/wrist area are always scary. So many tiny little easy to break bones in there.

Should Ellsbury miss time, the Yankees have plenty of outfield depth to cover for the injury, plus they have a ready made leadoff hitter replacement in Brett Gardner. Ben Gamel, Slade Heathcott, and Chris Denorfia would all be candidates to land on the roster. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.