The Yankees and Rays played seven and a half innings of scoreless ball before both team’s tallied in their final at-bat to make it 2-1 Yanks. The big news, however, is that Morgan Ensberg was added to the 40-man roster after the game, prompted by an escape clause in his contract that would have kicked in at midnight had he not made the 40-man. Having been added to the roster Ensberg is guaranteed $1.75 million for the season. Joe Girardi has said, as he did regarding Billy Traber, who was added to the 40-man a week and a half ago as prompted by a similar clause, that this doesn’t mean Ensberg has maid the team, but Ensberg has long since run out of options, and I find it difficult to believe that the Yankees would play $1.75 million just to cut him loose in a week.
Ensberg went 0 for 4 in last night’s game, which dropped him to .270/.341/.405 for the spring, which may not be a far cry from what the Yankees can expect from him during the regular season, but it’s a heckuvalot better than what they’d get from a Nick Green/Chris Woodward type. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com had a good piece up on Ensberg earlier in the day in which Ensberg raves about working with hitting coach Kevin Long.
As for the guys this leaves out, Brett Gardner and Cody Ransom, who will be Scranton’s starting center fielder and third baseman, respectively, put themselves on the short list should the Yanks need roster filler during the season. Gardner has hit .393/.469/.536 thus far this spring and stolen six bases in six tries. The catch is that he’s only played 45 games above double-A and the Yankees want to give him a little more time in triple-A. They may also prefer to have him keep his bat warm in a starting role in the minors just in case Melky Cabrera leaves the door open to the major league job in center field. Ransom has played all four infield positions and hit .273/.294/.455. He’ll walk more than that, which makes him a threat to Ensberg if the latter struggles. Jason Lane hit .263/.333/.526, but is simply too similar to Shelley Duncan, though that puts pressure on Shelley to perform assuming Lane will wind up starting in one of the outfield corners in Scranton. Perhaps most significantly, the fact that Chris Woodward faded from the fight despite his .409/.435/.455 line this spring (that’s all singles save for one walk and one double, by the way) is an encouraging early indicator for Joe Girardi’s decision-making skills.
Oh, and Ensberg has said he’ll change numbers, “”I’m not taking Paul O’Neill’s number. I’ll be trying as quickly as possible to get rid of that.” Per Mark Feinsand, Ensberg has always worn 14 and will attempt to buy the number away from Wilson Betemit.
As for the game . . .
L – Johnny Damon (LF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Bobby Abreu (RF)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Jason Giambi (1B)
R – Morgan Ensberg (DH)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
R – Chad Moeller (C)
S – Melky Cabrera (CF)
Pitchers: Darrell Rasner, Mariano Rivera, Edwar Ramirez, Brian Bruney, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Veras
Subs: Shelley Duncan (1B), Bernie Castro (2B), Nick Green (SS), Cody Ransom (3B), Jose Molina (C), Greg Porter (RF), Brett Gardner (PR/CF), Jason Lane (LF)
Opposition: Half of the Rays starters.
Big Hits: A double by Bobby Abreu (1 for 1, 2 BB) was the only extra base hit the Yanks had all game. Bernie Castro had the only RBI hit for the Yanks. Melky Cabrera was 1 for 1 with a pair of walks.
Who Pitched Well: Nearly everyone. The first five Yankee pitchers combined for this line: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K. Edwar Ramirez, Brian Bruney, and Ross Ohlendorf each turned in a perfect inning. Ohlendorf struck out two and got his third out on the ground. The big news, however, was Rasner’s outing, as he went four innings, allowed just three baserunners (two singles and a walk), and struck out four. He threw 68 pitches, 72 percent of which were strikes.
Who Didn’t: Jose Veras allowed the lone Tampa Bay run on a walk and double by Evan Longoria.
Oopsies: A passed ball and catcher’s interference by Chad Moeller.
Roster Moves: In addition to the Ensberg move, shortstop Alberto Gonzalez and outfielder Justin Christian were reassigned to minor league camp. I still don’t see what all the hype over Gonzalez’s glove is about. He’s a future major league futility infielder at best and Scranton’s starting shortstop for now. Christian will likely ride pine in Scranton behind Jason Lane, Brett Gardner, and Greg Porter, unless Lane has some sort of out-clause of his own I don’t know about. Nearly 28 years old, Christian will likely never make the majors.
Wang: Revealing yet another of baseball’s worst-kept secrets, Joe Girardi announced that Chien-Ming Wang will get the Opening Day start in the final Opening Day in Yankee Stadium history. Wang pitched against the Rays’ A-ball squad yesterday. He threw 89 pitches over 5 2/3 innings allowing four runs.
More: Tino likes coaching. Oh, and to make room for Ensberg, the Yanks put Carl Pavano on the 60-man DL.