"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Thursday’s Game – Nieves Say Nieves Edition

According to the New York Times and MLB.com, the twenty-fifth man on the Yankees opening day roster will be . . . Wil Nieves!

You know, Joe Torre has been hinting for a while that Nieves might make the roster, in part because he’s out of options, but the idea was so absurd I didn’t give it much credence. Then again, ever since the Kevins were optioned down to Columbus, the Yankees have been without a preferable option. A twelfth pitcher is unnecessary, particularly in April, when the schedule is littered with off-days. The thing the Yankees need most on their bench is a big bat, but there are none of those left on the bubble in camp. Second to that, they could use a reserve outfielder who can hit, but those options departed with Reese and Thompson. Popular waiver wire targets Carlos Pena and Erubiel Durazo are both first basemen (though even that’s a stretch for Durazo), and both were so bad this spring that the Yankees would be better off having either find his stroke in Columbus than having him warm the bench in the Bronx.

So, Wil Nieves. Whatever. I’d say they’re going to have to get rid of him when the inevitable roster crunch arrives, but no such crunch is on the horizon. Scott Proctor will likely get bounced to the minors when Aaron Small comes off the DL and I’m not about to hold my breath for Carl Pavano’s return. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Octavio Dotel activated before Pavano, whose endless injuries are creeping closer and closer to his mangina. Dotel could force Nieves off the roster, though by then Jaret Wright could be ready to hit the DL himself. I suppose the upside of having Nieves on the roster is that he could wrestle the back-up catcher job from Kelly Stinnett, making the Yankees’ catching corps seven and a half years younger, but not necessarily any better.

At any rate, here are your 2006 New York Yankees:

1B – Jason Giambi (L)
2B – Robinson Cano (L)
SS – Derek Jeter (R)
3B – Alex Rodriguez (R)
C – Jorge Posada (S)
RF – Gary Sheffield (R)
CF – Johnny Damon (L)
LF – Hideki Matsui (L)
DH – Bernie Williams (S)


R – Andy Phillips (IF)
R – Miguel Cairo (IF)
L – Bubba Crosby (OF)
R – Kelly Stinnett (C)
R – Wil Nieves (C)


L – Randy Johnson
R – Mike Mussina
R – Chien-Ming Wang
R – Shawn Chacon
R – Jaret Wright


R – Mariano Rivera
R – Kyle Farnsworth
R – Tanyon Sturtze
L – Mike Myers
L – Ron Villone
R – Scott Proctor

DL: R – Carl Pavano, R – Octavio Dotel, R – Aaron Small

Now that the roster is set, my spring training game wraps are kind of meaningless, but since the Yankees wrapped up their Grapefruit League schedule yesterday afternoon, I might as well wrap it up.

While their equipment managers packed the trucks, the Yankees fell to the home-town Devil Rays 6-4.


Johnny Damon CF
Derek Jeter SS
Gary Sheffield RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Hideki Matsui LF
Jason Giambi 1B
Jorge Posada C
Bernie Williams DH
Robinson Cano 2B

Subs: Andy Phillips 1B, Miguel Cairo 1B-2B, Felix Escalona SS, Russ Johnson 3B, Wil Nieves C, Kevin Reese RF, Bubba Crosby CF, Luis A. Garcia LF, Damian Rolls PR

Pitchers: Mike Mussina, Tanyon Sturtze, Mike Myers, Ron Villone, Ramiro Mendoza, Matt Smith

Big Hits: Gary Sheffield’s first dinger of the spring (1 for 3), a double by Jorge Posada (1 for 2, walk) who was behind the plate for the first time since breaking his nose. Miguel Cairo was 2 for 2 with a walk as a sub. Johnny Damon (1 for 4) stole two bases including home on a double steal with Derek Jeter taking second behind him.

Who Pitched Well?: Ron Villone threw a perfect seventh. Ramiro Mendoza pitched around a single in the eighth. Tanyon Sturtze struck out two and stranded a pair of singles in the fifth, which considering his performance this spring is outstanding.

Who Didn’t?: Having been beaten out for the final bullpen spot by Scott Proctor, Matt Smith might have been better off being optioned down yesterday as he blew the game in the ninth allowing three runs on four hits, all of which scored with two outs.

Ouchies: Under the watchful eyes of Joe Torre and Ron Guidry, Jaret Wright and Carl Pavano both threw in a minor league game against the double-A Phillies. Wright picked up right where he left off, using his Mike Mussina-taught curve to post this line: 4 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K, throwing 64 percent of 69 pitches for strikes. Pavano, bruised bum and all, threw 12 pitches in a single inning of work. Octavio Dotel threw another batting practice session. Mariano Rivera threw 50 pitches in the bullpen, not because of an injury, but because he’s been working too efficiently in his game appearances.

Finally, if you haven’t gotten enough of my yammering this month, you can check out my contributions to the season previews at Baseball Analysts and The Hardball Times. The former is a reunion of last year’s two-on-two roundtable of hosts Bryan Smith and Rich Lederer, myself, and The House That Dewey Built‘s Patrick “Sully” Sullivan. The latter is my contribution to The Hardball Times’ team-by-team “Five Question” series. Also, Bob Timmerman will be posting our Baseball Toaster predictions over on The Griddle this morning, so be sure to swing by and check that out as well.

Share: Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email %PRINT_TEXT

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver