With opening day right around the corner, the Yankees continue to prepare in the last week of spring training. By April 1, the Bronx Bombers hope to have a healthy lineup with all their key off-season additions. Here is the “projected” lineup for opening day against the Astros:
Catcher: Brian McCann – No doubt Brian McCann will be a key piece for the Yankees this year. He is in charge of managing a Yankees pitching staff that has high expectations. His left-handed bat power in the lineup will also be very important.
1st base: Mark Teixeira – Tex is coming off a crucial wrist injury. He has made strides this spring, but he does not feel 100% confident yet. The Yankees need him on the field because the back up 1st baseman for the Yankees is Kelly Johnson, who has very little experience at the position.
2nd base: Brian Roberts – Roberts has very big shoes to fill after the departure of Robinson Cano. He will be hitting 9th in the order and can hopefully be a second leadoff man. The same caution about Roberts, like most of the Yankee line up, is his durability.
3rd base: Kelly Johnson – Johnson is a utility man who can play all around the diamond. He will be starting at third though on opening day. He brings a consistent bat to the line up however, a big question will be his glove. He is used to second base and as we all know third base is very different in terms of fielding.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter – In his final season at age 40, Jeter will not be the everyday shortstop he used to be. However, he still brings leadership and a veteran presence to the clubhouse. After sitting out almost all of last year, Jeter has used the spring to find his groove again. His fielding range will be limited, but his bat in the #2 spot will be very key.
Right Field: Carlos Beltran – Beltran has been quiet due to the attention other off-season acquisitions have grabbed. Beltran still has a few good years left in him. At age 37, he is coming off a big season with the National League champion St. Louis Cardinals. The Yankees hope he is the same player they wanted when he was playing for their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets.
Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury – It has been reported that Ellsbury will be ready opening day. There had been reports saying Ellsbury was hindered by a calf injury. However, if he is healthy, Ellsbury can be a difference maker at the top of the order and in the field with his speed to steal bases and track down fly balls.
Left Field: Brett Gardner – Gardner was the most consistent Yankee arguably in the lineup last year. His ability to get on base and cause havoc on the base paths. After signing a contract extension this off-season, Gardner hopes to play up to the money he signed for.
Designated Hitter: Alfonso Soriano – Although his legs do not have the same speed of old, his bat has the same thunder. This is the perfect role for Soriano in the Yankee lineup. His bat will provide much needed power for the Bronx Bombers.
We will see when opening day arrives if these projections are correct. Hopefully the Yankees will have enough healthy bodies when it really counts, in October so they can compete for a 28th world series title.