Open Thread: March 6th Camp Notes

The Yankees lost 6-5 to the Phillies this afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka looked good in his two scoreless innings. He struck out two. A scout told Erik Boland Tanaka was 87-88 mph in the first inning and 90-91 in the second. Rob Refsnyder was tested twice at third base, first on the double play in the video above and the second time on a hot shot grounder, which he threw over to first for the out. The ball was hit right at him both times and he made the play, and that’s exactly what the Yankees need from Refsnyder at third. Make the plays you should make. Anything else is gravy.

At the plate, Refsnyder went 1-for-1 with a walk and two stolen bases. He must really not want to go back to Triple-A Scranton. Players very rarely steal bases this early in Spring Training. He wants to make an impression. Backup catcher hopeful Austin Romine came off the bench and went 2-for-2 with two booming doubles. He’s off to a nice start this spring and he’ll have to keep it up to make the Opening Day roster. Also, Lane Adams stood out with two long at-bats, both of which ended with walks. Starlin Castro singled in a run and Aaron Judge drew a walk. Here’s the box score, here are the video highlights, and here are the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • As usual, Chad Jennings has the day’s workout groups. Aroldis Chapman faced hitters in live practice but there’s still no timetable for his first spring game. The Yankees aren’t in any rush with him due to the suspension. Ivan Nova, Bryan Mitchell, James Kaprielian, and Luis Cessa threw bullpen sessions. Not much else happened aside from the game.
  • Luis Severino will come out of the bullpen and pitch after Michael Pineda tomorrow. It’s not unusual for starters to pitch in relief early in camp, especially the young guys. Mitchell will start Thursday’s split squad game on the road. Nathan Eovaldi is making his spring debut in the home game that day. [Jennings]
  • Joe Girardi said the Yankees will use their last bench spot on someone who can play third base. He mentioned Refsnyder, Donovan Solano, Ronald Torreyes, and Jonathan Diaz as candidates. Also, Girardi indicated the backup catcher’s job is between Sanchez and Romine. Carlos Corporan wasn’t mentioned. [Bryan Hoch, Jennings]
  • As I said, Pineda and Severino are both scheduled to pitch in tomorrow’s home game against the Astros. We won’t be able to watch that game anywhere. Not on television, not online. Lame-o.

Here is your open thread for the evening. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on MLB Network at 8pm ET, if you’re interested. The three local hockey teams are playing and there’s also a little college basketball too. Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Spring Training Game Thread: Tanaka’s Spring Debut

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Today is not just another Grapefruit League game. Staff ace Masahiro Tanaka is making his spring debut this afternoon, and he of course is coming off offseason surgery to remove a bone spur from his elbow. The Yankees have been taking it slow with him so far in camp, but now it’s time for game action. Assuming all goes well, today’s start lines Tanaka up perfectly for Opening Day.

Tanaka’s outing — he’s probably scheduled for something like two innings or 30 pitches — is the headliner today but it’s not the only story. Gary Sanchez is in the starting lineup and that’s a big deal. The Yankees have him catching Tanaka. They wouldn’t pair them if they weren’t seriously considering Sanchez for the backup catcher’s job. Also, Rob Refsnyder is starting at third base, a position he’s never played before. His ability to man the hot corner could be the difference between making the Opening Day roster or returning to Triple-A.

The Yankees made the quick bus ride over the causeway to Clearwater and will play the Phillies this afternoon. It’s not a long trip but they didn’t send many regulars anyway. Only the bare minimum. Here is the Phillies’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. SS Didi Gregorius
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. DH Chase Headley
  4. 1B Dustin Ackley
  5. C Gary Sanchez
  6. RF Aaron Hicks
  7. 3B Rob Refsnyder
  8. LF Lane Adams
  9. CF Slade Heathcott
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Available Pitchers: RHP Anthony Swarzak, RHP Chad Green, RHP Vicente Campos, LHP James Pazos, RHP Branden Pinder, and LHP Tyler Webb are all scheduled to pitch. RHP Kirby Yates is also available if necessary.

Available Position Players: C Austin Romine, 1B Deibinson Romero, 2B Tyler Wade, SS Jorge Mateo, 3B Ronald Torreyes, LF Ben Gamel, CF Dustin Fowler, RF Aaron Judge, and DH Carlos Corporan will come off the bench to replace the starters. C Santiago Nessy, C Sebastian Valle, IF Jonathan Diaz, and OF Cesar Puello drew the short straws and made the trip as well.

Pretty nice afternoon for baseball in Clearwater today. The internet tells me temperatures are in the low-70s, so it’s a little cool, but it’s bright and sunny with no clouds. If you’re in the Phillies home market, you can watch today’s came on Comcast SportNet. If not, you can only watch on MLB.tv. There’s no YES broadcast and MLB Network will show the game on tape delay at 8pm ET, but not live. First pitch is scheduled for a bit after 1pm ET. Enjoy.

Passing Through a Screen Door: On the Duality of Spring Training

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

On Friday, while my eleventh grade class settled in and waited for the post-lunch bell to signal the resumption of class, one girl–in her finest blue and orange hat–bemoaned the Mets’ loss to the Nationals in their Grapefruit League opener. Wisely–and before I could remind her–she said she knew that Spring Training was only about the players getting through the process in one piece and that she was hopeful for the 2016 Mets, but fearful one of their dynamite starting pitchers would go down for an extended period of time with some colossally devastating injury; her guess was Noah Syndergaard). Her pre-class thoughts summed up the duality of Spring Training deftly: hope and fear.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Looking for tears in the screen door

Luis Severino‘s first inning of work. Jorge Mateo‘s displays of power and speed. Aaron Judge‘s homer. Alex Rodriguez‘s homer.  Whether it’s in the form of current players like Severino and A-Rod showing the same stuff they did last year that made them successful or whether it’s Mateo and Judge giving us those teasing glimpses into the future, we’re reminded of the cliche sense of hope that comes along with Spring Training. Anything can happen. Anything great can happen.

Present or future–however you want to define either term–things always look rosy in March. Maybe it’s the Florida sun glossing over our eyes, too used to the winter clouds and rain; maybe it’s the idea of looking at a blank book, ready to be filled up with 162-plus adventures; maybe it’s that early March intersects with the New Year’s Resolution hangover and the first buzzes of spring cleaning. Regardless of the reason, we can’t help but be hopeful–at least in part–for the April to come and the months thereafter.

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

Waiting for another disaster

Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow. CC Sabathia‘s knee. Age. These are the other shoe whose drop we’re waiting for after our first hopeful step of spring.  Despite the optimism we may have, we remember that baseball is a game of failure, to a certain extent, and we contemplate the potential pitfalls: injured starters; an aging lineup; a potentially overworked bullpen.

Things are going to go wrong over the course of the baseball season and with so much time between now and Opening Day, we’re left to sit and wonder just how many things will go wrong and just how wrongly they’ll go. Who’ll start slow? Who’ll slump? Who’ll be out for months?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Over the course of this offseason, I’ve tried to balance the competing realities the Yankees seem to be facing heading into the 2016 season. They are teetering on a dual ledge that can send them plummeting into even more mediocrity or soaring into the playoffs, where anything can happen. It’s easy to look out at the coming season and see the waiting disasters, especially with knowledge of how cruel and random this game can be. But it’s just as easy to look for the tears in the screen door, the signs of hope, the signs that tell us this is going to be a good year. To that feeling, I say, “I was kind of hoping you’d stay.”

Open Thread: March 5th Camp Notes

The Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-4 this afternoon, and both Jorge Mateo (solo) and Aaron Judge (three-run) hit home runs. Hopefully that’s the first of many times those two go deep in the same game against the BoSox. Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-2 with a walk and Jacoby Ellsbury tripled. Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira, Rob Refsnyder, Ben Gamel, and Ronald Torreyes each had a hit as well.

Mark Montgomery allowed three of Boston’s four runs in his inning of work. Chasen Shreve, Johnny Barbato, and Nick Goody each threw a perfect inning and Nick Rumbelow pitched around a double in his inning of work. The Yankees used nine different pitchers. One an inning. Here is the box score, here are the video highlights, and here are the day’s notes:

This is tonight’s open thread. YES is replaying this afternoon’s game after tonight’s Nets game, whenever that ends. Figure 11pm ET or so. The Knicks are playing too and there’s a whole bunch of college hoops on the schedule. MLB Network is also showing some games on tape delay throughout the night. Talk about those games or anything right here.

Spring Training Game Thread: A-Rod on TV

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are playing their second televised (and fourth overall) Grapefruit League game this afternoon, and for the first time in 2016, we’ll get to see Alex Rodriguez in action. Rod homered on his first swing of the spring the other day, which of course means he’s going to hit about 40 dingers this year, his age 40 season. 40 at 40? Sign me up.

The Red Sox made the two hour drive up from Fort Myers — rivalry renewed, y’all! — so we’re not going to see many of their regulars today. They’re not putting guys on long bus trips yet. No one is, really. Anywhere, here is the Boston lineup and here is the Yankees lineup, for at least the first few innings before the mass substitutions begin:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. RF Carlos Beltran
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 2B Dustin Ackley
  8. LF Ben Gamel
  9. SS Jorge Mateo
    RHP Tyler Cloyd

Available Pitchers: LHP Richard Bleier, RHP Johnny Barbato, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Nick Rumbelow, RHP Nick Goody, LHP Chasen Shreve, and RHP Kyle Haynes are all scheduled to pitch. Shreve will be making his spring debut. He was hit by a line drive in the back during live batting practice the other day, but everything’s good now.

Available Position Players: C Eddy Rodriguez, 1B Chris Parmelee, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Ronald Torreyes, 3B Jonathan Diaz, LF Cesar Puello, CF Dustin Fowler, RF Aaron Judge, and DH Santiago Nessy will replace the starters.

It’s a pretty great day for baseball in Tampa. A little on the cool side, but it’s sunny and there are only a few clouds in the sky. Spring Training weather, it is. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1pm ET and you can watch on YES locally, MLB Network nationally, and MLB.tv anywhere. There are no MLB.tv blackouts in Spring Training. Enjoy the game, folks.

Minor League Links: Campos, Heathcott, Impact Prospects

Campos. (Presswire)
Campos. (Presswire)

The Yankees continue the Grapefruit League season later today and there will be a television (and online) broadcast, so hooray for that. We’ll have a regular game thread when the time comes. Here are some miscellaneous minor league notes to hold you over until first pitch.

Campos to work as a starter in 2016

Earlier this week Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings that RHP Vicente Campos will indeed continue to work as a starting pitcher this season. Campos, who came over from the Mariners in the Jesus MonteroMichael Pineda trade, missed the entire 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery. The 23-year-old had a 6.29 ERA (3.58 FIP) in 54.1 innings across 13 starts with mostly High-A Tampa after returning last year. The Yankees re-added him to the 40-man roster over the winter to prevent him from becoming a minor league free agent.

The ERA was ugly but Campos showed good control following surgery last summer (18.9 K% and 4.2 BB%) and his stuff reportedly returned to its pre-surgery levels, meaning a mid-90s heater and a hard upper-70s curveball. Campos, who used to go by Jose, has thrown only 166 innings over the last three years due to injuries, so he hasn’t had much time to work on his changeup. I think he’s likely to end up in the bullpen long-term because of that, but it makes sense to keep him in the rotation for the time being, if only to build up innings. There are a ton of guys ahead of him on the bullpen depth chart, though I wouldn’t rule out Campos making his MLB debut at some point in 2016.

Heathcott studying the swings of MLB’s best

In an effort to fine tune his swing, OF Slade Heathcott told Ryan Hatch he has been studying video of the game’s best hitters, such as Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Josh Donaldson. “Just their approach, the load, the path to the ball,” he said. “Hitting the ball on a plane. That’s what works for me. Not trying to hit home runs, but get the ball in the air.”

Heathcott, now 25, had a 38.1% ground ball rate during his limited big league time last season. It was 51.6% in Triple-A last year and 51.5% with Double-A Trenton in 2013. (Injuries limited him to only nine games in 2014.) Heathcott has speed, so he can leg out some infield hits, but he’s going to have to get the ball in the air more often to really have an impact offensively. If watching videos of guys like Trout and Harper helps, great.

No Yankees among Law’s top 25 impact prospects for 2016

Keith Law (subs. req’d) recently put together a list of the top 25 impact prospects for the 2016 season, which is different than a general top 25 prospect list. Not everyone in a general top 25 list is big league ready. Dodgers SS Corey Seager predictably tops the top 25 impact prospects list, which features no Yankees. In his weekly chat, Law said C Gary Sanchez wasn’t really considered for the list because of a lack of playing time. Even if Sanchez makes the Opening Day roster, Brian McCann is going to get the lion’s share of the playing time behind the plate. Understandable.

Sanchez. (Presswire)
Sanchez. (Presswire)

Baseball America’s position rankings

The crew at Baseball America finished posting their prospect position rankings this week. They released the catcher, right-handed pitcher, and left-handed pitcher lists two weeks ago. Here’s a quick recap with all of the relevant Yankees:

Keep in mind the No. X prospect at one position is not necessarily of equal caliber to the No. X prospect at another position. Talent isn’t linear across positions. Baseball America’s top ten Yankees’ prospects list had Refsnyder one spot behind Wade, for example. Add in Sanchez, who ranked No. 1 on the catcher list, and the Yankees had a top ten prospect at five of the nine positions. That’s pretty good.

Misc. Links

Here are a bunch of miscellaneous links that are worth checking out and come with RAB’s highest level of recommendation.

  • Sweeny Murti has a must read interview with farm system head Gary Denbo (part one, part two). Denbo confirmed Judge made some adjustments with his lower half over the winter, which we noticed the other day.
  • Joel Sherman profiled OF Estevan Florial, who is the shiny new toy in the farm system. Florial, 18, signed for $200,000 last March after being suspended for a year by MLB for falsified documents, which he used to enroll in school a few years back. Lots of folks are talking about Florial as the next great Yankees prospect.
  • Mark Feinsand wrote about RHP James Kaprielian, who lost his mother to breast cancer two years ago. Kaprielian explained how the experience shaped him as a man and helps him deal with adversity on the field.

As a reminder, the four full season minor league affiliates begin their regular season on Thursday, April 7th this year. That’s three days after the big league Yankees behind their season.

Open Thread: March 4th Camp Notes

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees lost their second straight Grapefruit League game this afternoon, falling 3-0 to the Tigers. Vinnie Pestano served up a three-run homer to Miguel Cabrera for the day’s only offense. Didi Gregorius, Brian McCann, and Dustin Ackley each had one hit. Didi doubled and drew the team’s only walk. Starlin Castro and Aaron Hicks were both 0-for-3.

Bryan Mitchell struck out two in two hitless and scoreless innings. He did walk and a hit a batter. James Kaprielian retired all six batters he faced with two strikeouts, and one scout told Erik Boland he was sitting 94-96 mph. I’m sure Kaprielian was a little amped up for his first spring outing, though it does seem last year’s velocity uptick is here to say. He joked he “had a game plan and everything” for Miggy but didn’t get to face him, says Jared Diamond. Here’s the box score, here are the photos (no video since the game wasn’t on TV), and here are the day’s notes:

  • Pretty slow day at the complex. Masahiro Tanaka threw a bullpen, Brett Gardner (wrist) hit in the cage again, and all the regulars who didn’t play in this afternoon’s game took batting practice. That’s about it. CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, and Andrew Miller will all throw in workouts tomorrow. [Chad Jennings, Brendan Kuty]
  • Domingo German (elbow) will be shut down for two weeks with ulnar nerve irritation before beginning a throwing problem. His recently rebuilt elbow ligament is intact. Donovan Solano was scratched from today’s game and is dealing with some back tightness. [Kuty, Jennings]
  • Jacoby Ellsbury will leadoff tomorrow in what will be his first spring game of the year. Chasen Shreve will also pitch in tomorrow’s game after taking a line drive to the back during live batting practice earlier this week. Tomorrow’s game will air on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. Tyler Cloyd is scheduled to start. [Ryan Hatch, Jennings]

Here is the nightly open thread. MLB Network is showing the Royals and Padres live a little later tonight, plus all of the local hockey and basketball teams are playing except the Islanders. And there’s some college hoops on the schedule too. Talk about those games or anything else right here.