Yankees: The Real Spring Training Begins In Earnest Now


The Yankees are almost the team that will take the field to face the Rays on Opening Day. With a tweak here and there, the roster will be set this week. For the remaining players, Spring Training begins in earnest (now) and everything changes.

The Yankees have dispelled nearly all of the mystery surrounding the 60 some players who reported to camp some six weeks ago. Highly acclaimed Baby Bombers have been sent to the minors for reassignment, and there are only a few questions left to answer about the composition of the 25-man roster that will take the field on April 2.

For the veterans, the spring has been an endless grind of bus rides and games that don’t count for anything but a star at the top of your homework assignment. And for the kids, it’s been a fun ride getting to meet and be around the likes of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera (oh – and Rich Gossage too) for a few days.

Veterans will take those bus rides they’ve been held back on and pitchers will not be sent home after the fifth inning

But now, things get serious. And the time for tinkering takes a time-out. For pitchers, this means that the changeup you’ve been working on is either game-ready or not. And if it’s not ready, it goes on the back burner and is not to be used in regular season games. Because these games will count.

And for hitters who have been trying to learn to hit the other way more, at this point either you can or you can’t.

For Joe Girardi, this week means that he’ll be posting the same lineup every day affording the same guys a chance to play as the unit they’ll be on Opening Day and beyond. Starlin Castro, for instance, will need to see the same feed from the same shortstop on a double-play ball and he’ll need to be in concert with his shortstop as to who’s covering the bag on a steal.

This means, of course, that the Yankees have precious little time to decide who, in fact, is their shortstop while Didi Gregorius is sidelined. After testing the market from the outside, it would appear that the Yankees do not see an upgrade from what they currently have in their organization.

So, whether it’s Tyler Wade, Ronald Torreyes, or Starlin Castro and someone like Rob Refsnyder takes over at second base, the team is under fire to make a decision and to do it quickly.

In right field, the Yankees may choose to not make a decision between Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge and instead opt to carry both of them as a platoon and fourth outfielder in the case of Hicks.

Replacement For Cessa TBD

The kettle is really brewing, though, when it comes to the starting rotation. And since we’re probably talking about the fourth and fifth starters, there is the luxury of having more time to sort things out before their turn comes up in the regular season.

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Luis Cessa was given a proper sendoff and that opens up at least his spot in the rotation. Jordan Montgomery, the 6’6″ southpaw, has come on strong and would be the most likely to get the nod over Bryan Mitchell, but that isn’t a lock until the Yankees say it is. In the background is James Kaprielian, who sits waiting for the team’s okay to go full bore.

CC Sabathia is entrenched and Girardi has already announced that he will start the second game of the season following Masahiro Tanaka. And both Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have pitched well enough to hold their spot in the rotation.

From Here On In, These Games Count

With a regular lineup taking the field for the upcoming week, the Yankees do need to establish a pattern of winning games. 20-7 as of today doesn’t matter, but 5-2 or, on the downside, 2-5 does matter if only from a mental standpoint as the unit prepares itself over the next few days.

It’s been a long and arduous trek to get to this point. And now, it’s time to tighten things up and get down to business. Veterans will take those bus rides they’ve been held back on and pitchers will not be sent home after the fifth inning when they’ve completed their work for the day.

It’s a new day and it begins now.