Monday, March 2, 2015

Yankees weekend news wrap: Let the games begin

New York is covered in snow, but Monday the Yankees will be playing a baseball game in warm Tampa, Florida. Albeit an intrasquad game, it is nonetheless a ballgame, as the club begins its trek through exhibition games to help determine what the 25-man roster will look like come April.

The batters will face a pitching machine during the game, so this one is about hitting and fielding. Pitchers will have bullpen sessions and toss batting practice in the morning. Tuesday, the Yankees will face the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Florida with Adam Warren getting the start.

The Yankees are trying to work with a six-man rotation this spring in hopes of bringing the fragile starting staff along a little slower. It is uncertain when CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka or Michael Pineda will get into games. Nathan Eovaldi is set for Wednesday’s start and Esmil Rogers begins Thursday's game according to Chad Jennings of The LoHud Yankees Blog. Chase Whitley, Chris Capuano and Bryan Mitchell are likely to get work in games before the Yankees’ top three.

Pineda threw live batting practice Sunday morning and Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi was impressed with what he saw according to Jennings.
“His command was outstanding,” Girardi said. “The movement was great. His slider was good. His changeup was good. Threw a ton of strikes. I mean, he’s a strike thrower. You look at a lot of his games last year, there is not a high pitch count in his games. He is very efficient. He’s great.”
This is encouraging news for Pineda, whose talent is really not a question as much as his ability to throw for a complete season without shoulder issues is. Pineda’s career-high for innings pitched is 171, set in 2011, his rookie year with the Seattle Mariners. For the Yankees to be a contender, Pineda making 30+ starts is very important.

It is uncertain when Alex Rodriguez will get into game action. It was undecided if he’d play in the intrasquad game or not, and with the first game in a National League park, if there is no designated hitter, it’s unlikely the Yankees would have A-Rod travel. The Yanks are scheduled to be at home Wednesday against the Phillies so that’s the absolute latest we’ll see Rodriguez in game action, assuming he’s healthy.

The Yankees will give A-Rod every chance to earn a spot on the roster as their designated hitter and backup third/first baseman. Rodriguez will be given as many at-bats as possible this spring in an effort to help him regain his timing against Major League pitching. Live batting practice only goes so far, so expect Rodriguez to be in plenty of game action this spring.

After a long winter it is finally time for Yankees’ baseball, and the club is determined to stay healthy and compete for a postseason berth after two years without one. The march begins in earnest Monday.

Photo of Adam Warren courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer and sports media strategist. Besides his work here, Christopher is a correspondent for FantasyPros, where he writes a weekly Closer Report column. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.