Monday, March 7, 2016

Yankees weekend news wrap: Ellsbury, Tanaka and Refsnyder

Ellsbury makes spring debut

Jacoby Ellsbury
Photo: Keith Allison
New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury made his first start of the spring Saturday and went 1-for-3 with a triple. The triple showed his legs are underneath him and that’s an important factor for the Yankees.

The Yanks need Ellsbury to not only stay healthy this season, but for him to bounce back after a lackluster 2015 season. It’s always been apparent to me that Ellsbury is at his best when he is 100 percent. He doesn’t play well when dealing with even the slightest bit of ill health. Ellsbury was on a tear before he was injured last season, and then never fully recuperated which adversely affected his performance upon his return and straight through the end of the season.

Ellsbury understands the club needs him to be the ignition for the team’s offense.

“I try and go out there and do the best job I can possibly do,” said Ellsbury as reported by the New York Post’s George A. King III. “It’s a team game but it helps when everybody goes out there and puts together a very good season. It’s only going to help the team to get to where we want to be.”

Tanaka hurls two innings in first spring start

Masahiro Tanaka tossed two scoreless innings Sunday in his first start since having bone spurs removed from his right elbow. Tanaka struck out two batters and allowed two hits and walk, throwing 20 of his 31 pitches for strikes.

We’ll see how Tanaka feels Monday, but he managed to get through his first test. The plans according to both Tanaka and Yankees manager Joe Girardi is that the 27-year-old righty will on the mound for Opening Day should all continue to go well.

Here is Girardi via's Bryan Hoch. "I've said all along, I feel pretty good about where he's at," Girardi said. "We'll just take it start by start to make sure he feels good, but I liked what I saw today."

This season is a pivotal one for Tanaka, as he needs to show he can pitch past the partial ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right elbow and to see if he can elevate his game to the level of an ace which the club could sorely use.

Refsnyder opens eyes at hot corner

If Rob Refsnyder wants to make the Yankees out of spring training he is going to need to show he can be a versatile player. He took the first step to prove he has it in him Sunday, making the start at third base.

Refsnyder, the outfielder turned second baseman, is learning third in order to provide another option for the Yankees to rest third base starter Chase Headley. The Yankees feel new starting second baseman Starlin Castro could take some time at third, but they would prefer (and rightfully so) that the former Cubs shortstop continue to learn second base.

Refsnyder’s bat and approach at the plate has never been in question, but the glove has. He showed no issues Sunday, making a nice play on a rocket hit to him which he used to began a 5-4-3 double play. Refsnyder made one other routine play during his time on the field. After the game he stated he let his instincts take over.

"I felt good, comfortable," Refsnyder told Hoch. "My goal was to kind of be aggressive, try to make a lot of plays, do a lot of different things on both sides of the ball. I just want to be aggressive."

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on The Cauldron via Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports 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.