Despite our best attempt at optimism prior to Wednesday's spring training showdown with the Nationals, Michael Kay slipped in a comment that equated to pressing the panic button for thousands of easy-to-scare Yankees fans.
Just before first pitch, he insinuated that the spring lineup could very well be the Opening Day lineup with Jose Trevino swapped in for Kyle Higashioka. If true, that would mean no Gleyber Torres, no Oswald Peraza, and a hefty dose of Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson in the No. 5 spot in the order.
We just got done telling people not to freak out. Now we're freaking out. That's Yankees Life for ya.
Luckily, even if the team makes some egregious Opening Day lineup decisions ... it's just one game. Hell, the 2019 season -- which we all loved -- began with Troy Tulowitzki at shortstop, DJ LeMahieu on the bench, and Gio Urshela nowhere near the picture, chilling at Triple-A as a depth piece.
No, the real reason for animosity would be if the Opening Day roster features a few infuriating demotions, leaving key cogs to this season wasting away in Scranton.
So far, so good at camp. The players who need to impress are impressing, the regulars are getting their feet wet, the pitchers are getting up to speed, and there've even been a few surprises. The roster still seems fairly settled, but there are a few head-shaking possibilities that would infuriate us.
Yankees Opening Day Roster: Which decisions would wreck you?
The following spots seem set in stone:
Offensive Players (8): Anthony Rizzo, Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Harrison Bader, Aaron Hicks, Josh Donaldson, Jose Trevino, Kyle Higashioka
Pitchers (12): Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes Jr., Domingo Germán, Clay Holmes, Michael King, Tommy Kahnle, Jonathan Loáisiga, Ron Marinaccio, Wandy Peralta, Lou Trivino
Now, for the potential sticking points, with six spots still available:
Oswald Peraza and Oswaldo Cabrera ... if they don't win starting jobs, will they be carried on Opening Day at all? It sounds insane, but the Yankees were reticent to call either player up last year until the team needed a spark. Will they try to pair Peraza with Anthony Volpe at Triple-A instead of having him ride the bench? If so ... who takes his big-league spot? Best not to think about this and just assume the team will come to their senses.
Gleyber Torres and Isiah Kiner-Falefa: Is either being traded? The Dodgers have a shortstop opening all of a sudden, but is IKF an upgrade over Miguel Rojas? Did LA already pick their light-hitting, glove-first infielder (and, clearly, Rojas has a more golden glove at short than Kiner-Falefa). If so ... does that leave Torres as the more likely trade option? Textbook definition of gutting, considering this team isn't in a position to sacrifice offense whatsoever.
Estevan Florial: Is this his last chance at an MLB roster spot? Is he getting a fair shake at grabbing one?
Final Bullpen Spots: Will Greg Weissert have to wait at Triple-A some more before he gets the chance to uncork some of his magic sliders? What about early spring standouts like Jimmy Cordero and Matt Krook? Does Albert Abreu have a spot locked down?
Clarke Schmidt: If Domingo Germán wins the fifth starter job -- and he likely will -- will Schmidt be a bullpen piece once again? Will he start at Triple-A? Could he be a trade piece for an outfielder (looking at you, St. Louis Cardinals outfield overflow)? Either way, it'll sting, considering he's earned his shot to carve up big-leaguers from the Yankees rotation using his new cutter.
The day Volpe leaves big-league camp will hurt, but you know he'll be coming back in due time. Gleyber? If he leaves early, he won't be back. And that will feel premature.
And if Peraza or Cabrera come up short in this spring's roster battles, that will make Opening Day's crew immeasurably worse. Fans will be entirely justified in crossing their arms and sighing.