At long last, that slog of an offseason is (kinda) over and baseball has returned. The Yankees begin their 32-game exhibition schedule this afternoon with the Grapefruit League opener on the road against the Red Sox. The ALDS wounds are still fresh, but trust me, no one on the roster is thinking revenge today. Not on February 23rd.
The Yankees sent a skeleton crew on the two-hour bus trip south to Fort Myers. Only three no-doubt big league position players made the trip and we won’t see a single member of the projected Opening Day pitching staff this afternoon. That’s alright. Part of the fun in Spring Training is seeing players we don’t usually get to see during the regular season.
Two things to watch this afternoon: One, Miguel Andujar’s defense at third base, and two, Clint Frazier’s return from last year’s concussion issues. One game won’t tell us much — at this point I am in “just please no one get hurt” mode — though this will be our first chance to Andujar’s new footwork and healthy Frazier for the first time really since 2017.
Also, the new 20-second pitch clock will be in use today. We still don’t know whether it’ll be used during the regular season (bet on it), but MLB wants to give players and umpires a chance to get used to it in case it is implemented, so they’re using in Spring Training. I watched the A’s vs. Mariners yesterday and barely noticed it. Today we’ll see the Yankees use it for the first time.
Neither AL East rival is giving the other a look at their best players today. The Red Sox are also using a lineup loaded with minor leaguers today. Here is their lineup and here is the lineup the Yankees will use this afternoon, at least for the first few innings:
- CF Aaron Hicks
- 2B Gleyber Torres
- 3B Miguel Andujar
- 1B Greg Bird
- LF Clint Frazier
- DH Mike Ford
- C Kyle Higashioka
- SS Tyler Wade
- RF Matt Lipka
LHP Nestor Cortes
Available Position Players: C Kellin Deglan, C Francisco Diaz, C Jorge Saez, IF Angel Aguilar, IF Thairo Estrada, IF Kyle Holder, OF Trey Amburgey, IF Gosuke Katoh, 1B/OF Ryan McBroom, OF Estevan Florial, OF Jeff Hendrix. Aguilar, Katoh, McBroom, and Hendrix are up from minor league camp for the road trip. Minor league Spring Training isn’t officially open yet, so those guys have presumably been working out at the minor league complex across the street the last few days/weeks.
Available Pitchers: LHP Rex Brothers, RHP Cale Coshow, LHP Danny Coulombe, LHP Phil Diehl, RHP Joe Harvey, RHP Drew Hutchison, RHP Brady Lail, RHP David Sosebee, RHP Greg Weissert. Sosebee and Weissert are extra arms from minor league camp.
It is hot and humid in Fort Myers today. Mid-80s with humidity hovering around 80%. It’ll be a sticky day at the park for everyone in attendance. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch live on MLB Network and MLB.tv. MLB Network will show the game in the Yankees home market and there are no MLB.tv blackouts in Spring Training. Enjoy the game, folks. Baseball’s back.