Yankees' Friday spring training lineup puts IKF in wild spot (in more ways than one)
Consider Friday to be Isiah Kiner-Falefa's (MLB At)Bat Mitzvah, as the longtime shortstop officially becomes a Utility Man. His move to "center field for the New York Yankees" certainly snuck up on us quick, and Friday's Spring Training battle with the Detroit Tigers will be America's first chance to see whether Nick Swisher was able to get enough work in breaking in IKF's outfield glove.
In recent days, it's become clear that, if we assume Kiner-Falefa had really entered spring training in the middle of the shortstop competition, he was no longer a member of the triumvirate as Opening Day approached. Earlier this week, he spoke about adding center field to his "resumé," making his profile more appealing to the Yankees -- or another team -- as he lost grip on his starting job.
Not only has IKF's resumé gotten an interesting boost at the end of Spring Training, but he's also been placed in a prime run-scoring spot in Friday's lineup for his center field debut.
Yup. That's him in the corner. That's him in the cleanup spot, and I, the fan, am losing my religion. Oh, and don't forget DH Aaron Hicks, either! Can't lose that bat.
Yankees Lineup: (Hagrid voice) You're a cleanup hitter and a center fielder, IKF!
If this happened during the regular season, it would knock the Mets off the back page of the Post. Thankfully, none of this counts -- except for as a resumé bullet for IKF.
"Yes, thanks for asking. I was extremely proud of my time with the New York Yankees, where I was able to show off my special skills of Microsoft Excel, people-pleasing, and singles-hitting. I was even able to earn a promotion to cleanup hitter at some point, despite that being extremely out of character. That's how favorably they thought of me."
As for DH Aaron Hicks, the presumptive starting left fielder was off to a hot start this spring with higher hands, but all of a sudden is hitting .231 with a .644 OPS. His challenger, Rafael Ortega? Down to .174 (albeit with a.932 OPS and pair of homers). Both batters need the reps to continue to iron things out. It makes sense. But the sight of sneaking Hicksy in at an offense-first position is still spring training levels of funny.
Maybe we're looking at this lineup all wrong, though? Because Jomboy picked out a whole different "IMPORTANT THING."
He's right, you know. Another game for Volpe at short. Another game for Volpe atop the order. Another game for Volpe in general ... and now Oswald Peraza's at second base? Were we moving the wrong prospect all along?
In terms of positional shifts, that's a little more exciting and noteworthy than moving Kiner-Falefa to Mickey Mantle's old spot.