Boy, have the Yankees had bad luck with outfield prospects beginning their careers recently. Billy McKinney, who replaced the injured Aaron Hicks on the active roster, has gone down after he sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder crashing into the outfield wall in left field at Rogers Centre.
McKinney stayed in for one play after the injury, but was quickly lifted once it was clear that his throwing arm was compromised. The 23-year-old went 1-for-4 in his debut game, but did not come to the plate in his second game. He was replaced by Brett Gardner in left field.
The Yankees now have some very limited outfield depth with McKinney joining Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier on the disabled list. They have started to play Giancarlo Stanton more in left field, and can turn to Tyler Wade and Ronald Torreyes in an emergency situation.
After Wade and Torreyes, the situation becomes even more murky. Shane Robinson was in camp as a non-roster invitee, and there were impressive contributions from lower-level prospects like Estevan Florial, Trey Amburgey and Jeff Hendrix.
Before turning to any of their minor league depth, the Yankees certainly have to be rooting for one of Ellsbury, Frazier or Hicks to return from injury. For the time being, Stanton in left, Gardner in center and Aaron Judge in right will have to do.
To replace McKinney on the roster, the Yankees promoted 3B/1B Miguel Andújar from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The RailRiders do not open their season until April 6, so Andújar might be best served on the big league roster anyway. Andújar slashed .267/.306/.622 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 15 Spring Training games this year. He is ranked as the team’s No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline.
By adding Andújar as infield insurance, Aaron Boone can have a little more liberty with his utility players.
The Yankees’ matchup with the Detroit Tigers today ended locked in a 2-to-2 tie after Giovanny Gallegos blew a one-run lead after just two batters in the ninth inning.
It was a low-scoring game from the start, with the Tigers scoring first on a Leonys Martín solo shot off CC Sabathia in the third inning. That was all the offense that the Tigers got until the ninth inning.
The Bronx Bombers did not look like themselves until their two-run rally in the eighth inning. Didi Gregorius launched his third home run of the spring to cut the lead in half. Aaron Hicks followed with a single, Miguel Andújar moved him to second on a ground out, Adam Lind walked, Gleyber Torres walked to load the bases, then Shane Robinson beat out a double play ground ball to score Hicks and tie the game.
The Tigers came right back in the ninth. JaCoby Jones singled off Gallegos then moved to second on a wild pitch. Victor Reyes promptly singled to center field, and Jones beat Estevan Florial’s throw to the plate.
The Yankees threatened in the bottom of the ninth after Jeff Hendrix made it to third after a leadoff walk. But, strikeouts from Jace Peterson and Kyle Higashioka set the stage for Estevan Florial to ground out to second base. Hendrix was stranded on third, and that ended the game in Tampa.
- Neil Walker is scheduled to make his Grapefruit League debut in pinstripes (at least the pants) for Friday’s evening matchup with the Houston Astros. He had been working out at the free agent camp setup by the MLBPA in Bradenton, Fla., and is scheduled to workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex over the next few days to prepare for full game activity.
The Yankees send Chance Adams to the hill to take on Miguel Castro of the Baltimore Orioles at their complex in Sarasota, Fla.
Giancarlo Stanton smacked his first Yankees home run off Matt Harvey, and the other Yankee bats combined to score 10 runs in a rousing win over their crosstown rivals.
The Stanton homer came in the fifth inning, where the Yankees already had a 3-to-1 advantage. Aaron Judge walked prior to Stanton’s at-bat. The home run resulted in the removal of Harvey from the game after 4⅔ innings.
Brandon Drury and Kyle Holder each knocked in two runs as well, with other RBIs coming from Tyler Austin, Abiatal Avelino and Shane Robinson. Estevan Florial almost had one, but the play was ruled a fielding error by right fielder L.J. Mazzilli.
Luis Cessa was on the ropes fairly quickly in this game, getting the hook after 1⅓ innings with the bases loaded. David Robertson made his spring debut in the second, and promptly Houdini’d out of the inning without allowing a run.
There was a funny moment in the fifth inning where no one came out to pitch for the Yankees. Described as “some issues” by Aaron Boone in his YES Network mid-inning interview, Dellin Betances had gone into the clubhouse to shower and get changed because he was only supposed to throw one inning. Adam Warren, the next scheduled pitcher, apparently never got the memo to warm up. So, Betances put his uniform back on and faced one more batter. Luis Guillorme singled, then Warren came in to relieve Betances.
- Tyler Wade dove for a ball hit by José Reyes, and rolled his wrist trying to make a play. It looked really bad at first glance, and Wade was in a lot of pain. He was replaced by Kyle Holder, and I was truly holding my breath because Wade has really impressed me this spring. But, reports from the clubhouse indicated that he needed “ice but no tests,” and that he would return to action Monday. It is unclear if he was already scheduled to sit out Sunday.
- Aaron Judge got his first multi-hit game of the spring today. His timing looks to be back, and that’s a great sign for a player coming off of offseason shoulder surgery. Boone mentioned during his interview that Judge was also getting reps in left field with Stanton on the back fields while the team was away playing road games. We’ve yet to see Judge out there in an exhibition game, but something tells me we won’t have to wait long for that to happen.
- Both Chad Green and Adam Warren threw for more than one inning today, which should surprise absolutely no one. These two are the main multi-inning relievers for the Yanks, and they will probably get stretched out to throw up to three innings before Opening Day gets here.
Masahiro Tanaka looks to rebound from his poor spring debut in a matchup against Jacob Turner and the Miami Marlins. The Yankees will make the long trek to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter for that game. No word on who’s going, however.
The Yankees are back on the road, as they take on the Toronto Blue Jays at their spring complex in Dunedin. Chad Green will get the ball as a starter today, making his first spring appearance.
Green was a revelation out of the bullpen last season. He finished the season with a stellar 5-0 record and 1.83 ERA (1.75 FIP). He struck out 13.4 batters per nine, while walking just 2.2. He comes into camp stretched out as a starter, though manager Aaron Boone noted “a lot would have to happen” for him to end up in the rotation.
Marco Estrada gets the ball for the Blue Jays. The 34-year-old had a disappointing season in the final year of the two-year, $26 million contract signed after the 2015 season. In 33 starts, he finished 10-9 with a 4.98 ERA (4.61 FIP) with 8.5 K/9, 9.0 H/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Not what you want from a guy making $14.5 million.
After his walkoff heroics last night, Miguel Andújar gets the start at third base and bats second. A ton of middle/utility infield candidates in the lineup today as well, with Danny Espinosa at second base, Jace Peterson at designated hitter and Ronald Torreyes at shortstop. Lastly, we get to see another start from Billy McKinney (this time in left), and Shane Robinson shifts to right field.
Today’s scheduled relievers for the Yankees are RHP Brady Lail, RHP David Hale, RHP J.P. Feyereisen and RHP Raynel Espinal.
Blue Jays’ Lineup:
- Devon Travis – 2B
- Yangervis Solarte – 3B
- Josh Donaldson – DH
- Justin Smoak – 1B
- Randal Grichuk – RF
- Russell Martin – C
- Steve Pearce – LF
- Kevin Pillar – CF
- Aledmys Díaz – SS
The Yankees added another name to their crowded outfield mix Thursday, adding former Angel Shane Robinson on a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. The deal was first reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
As the tweet illustrates, Robinson would make $950,000 if he’s on the big league roster. That is more than Aaron Judge will make in 2018, oddly enough. The 33-year-old saw 20 games in the MLB last season, slashing .194/.257/.194. He was a fifth-round pick of the Cardinals in 2006.
The signing of Robinson is just another depth move. The Yankees only invited one pure outfielder to camp (top prospect Estevan Florial), and a utility player (Jace Peterson). The surplus of outfielders at the big league level means Robinson would not get guaranteed time at Triple-A Scranton. It is unclear if Robinson has an opt-out in his contract related to his roster status at the end of Spring Training.
With the signing of Robinson, here is the current Yankee outfield depth:
- Jabari Blash
- Jake Cave
- Jacoby Ellsbury
- Estevan Florial
- Clint Frazier
- Brett Gardner
- Aaron Hicks
- Aaron Judge
- Billy McKinney
- Shane Robinson
- Giancarlo Stanton
Clearly, a lot of competition. That list doesn’t include guys like Peterson, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade, who have all logged games in the outfield. Barring injuries, it looks like the MLB outfield is set. Robinson is likely competing for Triple-A playing time.