The Yankees beat the Blue Jays 5-2 thanks to the healthy return of Mark Teixeira, who took a pitch off his left elbow Monday night, but they have some concerns about the health of their catchers, particularly their backups.
L – Curtis Granderson (CF)
L – Nick Johnson (DH)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – P.J. Pilittere (C)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
R – Marcus Thames (LF)
S – Ramiro Peña (SS)
S – Marcos Vechionacci (3B)
Pitchers (IP): A.J. Burnett (4 2/3), Royce Ring (1/3), Chan Ho Park (1), David Robertson (1), Joba Chamberlain (1), Lance Pendleton (1)
Big Hits: Doubles by Curtis Granderson (2-for-3), Mark Teixeira (2-for-4, and again quietly raking in camp to a .341/.408/.591 tune leading the remaining campers in slugging), and Ramiro Peña (1-for-3). Robinson Cano had two singles and a sac fly in three trips. Nick Swisher singled twice in three at-bats.
Who Pitched Well: All of the relievers. Royce Ring struck out the only man he faced, lefty slugger Adam Lind, swinging. Minor league call-up Lance Pendleton struck out two in a perfect ninth. Chan Ho Park struck out one in a perfect sixth and now has eight strikeouts against no hits, no walks and just four hits in seven spring innings. Joba Chamberlain worked around a walk, striking out two in a hitless eighth. David Robertson worked around a single for a scoreless seventh, though he struck out no one and uncorked a wild pitch.
Who Didn’t: A.J. Burnett scattered two runs, but allowed seven baserunners (two walks, two singles, two doubles, and a Jose Bautista solo homer) in just 4 2/3 innings while striking out only two. Then again, Joe Girardi said Burnett looked better than he had all spring. Given his 5.12 spring ERA, that’s entirely possible. He did have his curve working and mixed in his changeup, neither of which were the case in his previous start.
Ouchies: Obviously Mark Teixeira (eblow) is fine. Francisco Cervelli and Mike Rivera both have sore hamstrings. Cervelli had an MRI and was diagnosed with a Grade 1 strain that will keep him out of action for the remainder of camp. The Yankees still hope Cervelli can open the season with the team, but if he can’t, the Yankees may have to reach further down the depth chart for a catcher, though Rivera is expected to test out his leg in Friday’s game. Adding to the backstop angst, Jorge Posada was scratched from Thursday’s game due to a sore neck (thus Pilittere batting clean-up). It seems Posada just slept in a bad position. The Yankees expect him to play on Friday. Alfredo Aceves (back) is scheduled to pitch on Friday and is also hoping to avoid extended spring training or a DL stay.
Other: Joe Girardi made it official, Curtis Granderson will be the starting center fielder, playing even against lefties, at least until/unless he continues to struggle against them. Brett Gardner will be the starting left fielder but, like last year, will have to produce to keep his job. I think the Yankees’ best arrangement would have been to put Gardner in center because I believe he is the superior fielder, but I understand Girardi’s thinking that he doesn’t want Granderson to have to change positions if Gardner loses his job. I can’t decide if I agree with it, but I understand it. In a way it seems as if he’s expecting Gardner to fail, but by that same token, why not expect the best from your big new acquisition (that he can be a superlative defender in center and hit lefties). Let Granderson show he can’t cut it before you limit his value by moving him to left and platooning him. I just hope Girardi’s willing to make those moves should it become clear that they’re necessary. I’m sure I’ll be revisiting this in a few months no matter which way things fall.