I’m putting my position battle posts on hold for a day seeing as there’s some actual news to report today. Of course, pitchers and catchers reported yesterday, but the big news (relatively speaking, of course) was that the Yankees added a pitcher and will be short one catcher in Tampa.
Jersey boy Ron Villone signed a minor league deal with the Yankees yesterday. Given his strong performance through mid-August of last year (2.23 ERA through Aug. 16), which eventually made him one of Joe Torre’s go-to relievers, his left-handedness, his ability to work multiple innings, and his overall veteran mojo, I expect he’ll have to have an exceptionally poor spring not to make the roster. If Villone makes the team, he’ll earn $2.5 million this season. That would leave just one undecided spot on the 25-man roster after the Yankees’ three position battles are settled. That spot will go to one of the organization’s young relievers, with righty Chris Britton being the most likely to travel north.
Also, Brian Cashman told the press yesterday that Raul Chavez, one of the non-roster invitees vying for the backup catcher spot, broke his left hand while playing winter ball and is still wearing a cast. That will likely end his chances of breaking camp as Jorge Posada’s back-up (I’ve been unable to turn up an estimate for Chavez’s return to action). I’ll have a post up tomorrow about the remaining candidates for that job.
Meanwhile, check out Anthony McCarron’s profile of righty first-base candidate Josh Phelps, as well as the more than 30 minutes of actual audio of Joe Torre and Brian Cashman on the first day of spring training over at Peter Abraham’s LoHud blog.