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Spring Training Notes: 2018
2 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2018 - 8:01PM #51
Posts: 32,868

February 24th Camp Notes

Two games, two wins for the Yankees this spring. They beat the Pirates this afternoon. Billy McKinney whacked a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to give the Yankees the 4-1 win. Estevan Florial had a standup triple, which you can see in the video above. (Here’s the link if the embed doesn’t work.) Brandon Drury, Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier, and Kyle Holder each had a hit. Tyler Wade and Tyler Austin both went 0-for-3. Erik Kratz went 2-for-2 and is 4-for-4 as a Yankee all-time.

On the mound, Domingo German started and tossed two scoreless innings. Adam Warren and J.P. Feyereisen both threw two scoreless innings as well. German, Warren, and Feyereisen each allowed two hits. Dillon Tate allowed a solo homer to Gregory Polanco in his two innings. Jonathan Holder closed out the win and is a Proven Grapefruit League Closer™. Here is the box score and here are the rest of the day’s notes from camp:

  • Drury took a pitch to the left hand this afternoon but remained in the game. He’s fine. Drury iced it down after the game and no x-rays are scheduled. Losing him to a hit-by-pitch injury in his first game after the trade would’ve sucked. [Randy MillerMike Mazzeo]
  • Not sure about the rest of the workout assignments, but Dellin Betances threw a simulated game today. Betances, Aroldis Chapman, and David Robertson are probably a few days away from getting into games. The relievers always start later than the starters. [Pete Caldera]
  • Thairo Estrada has graduated from the stationary bike to the elliptical machine. The doctors are not planning to take the bullet out of his hip at the moment, and Aaron Boone is increasingly optimistic Estrada will be ready for the start of the minor league season. The Yankees aren’t going to push him, however. I mean, duh. [Coley HarveyBrendan Kuty]
  • The Yankees will be in Clearwater to take on the Phillies tomorrow, and the game will be televised. Jordan Montgomery gets the start. Greg Bird, Gleyber Torres, and Justus Sheffield are also making the trip. [Mazzeo]

2 years ago  ::  Feb 24, 2018 - 8:03PM #52
Posts: 32,868

Brandon Drury debuts by giving Yankees scare in 4-1 win | Rapid reaction

Yankees manager Aaron Boone takes a selfie with a young fan during batting practice before a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla., on Saturday. (Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports)

BRADENTON, Fla. -- There's a simple reason why new Yankees third baseman Brandon Drury wasn't anointed the starter after GM Brian Cashman pulled the trigger on an early spring training trade just a few days ago:

A lot can change over a month-plus of Grapefruit League games.

A lot can change in a day ... or in a single plate appearance.

Exhibit A was on display Saturday when Drury was drilled in the left hand the second time he was up in his debut game with the Yankees, a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on the strength of a three-run, ninth-inning homer by Billy McKinney.

The Yankees got lucky this time because Drury, while appearing to be hurting initially, finished out the top and bottom of the third after being hit by Pirates righty reliever Clay Holmes.

"It scared me at first, but once I got to first I knew I was good," Drury said. "I kept it moving a little bit and now I feel great. I'll put some ice on it. I'm a hundred percent."

Acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal last Tuesday, Drury was in manager Aaron Boone's lineup hitting second and playing third against the Pirates after sitting out the Yankees' first spring game on Friday, a 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers in Tampa.

"It's spring training and it's going to be different when Opening Day comes and the season starts, but it's still a baseball game and I put on a Yankees uniform," Drury said. "It was special and I'm excited to keep on Doug this."

After the game began with Pirates starter Nick Kingham striking out Tyler Wade, Drury stepped into the batter's box and laced the first pitch he ever saw in a Yankees uniform into left field for a line single.

Drury hit again with a runner on third and two outs in the third, and that's when he got a good scare. He circled the batter's box area after being hit, then took first base.

After the inning ended, Drury walked from first to third not moving his left arm, then he held up his hand to show where he had been hit to Wade as the latter was heading to his shortstop position.

Drury fielded an early grounder to end the Pirates third, then was replaced in the bottom of the fourth by rookie Miguel Andujar.

A game in which most of the Yankees regulars stayed in Tampa was scoreless until the fourth when catcher Erik Kratz delivered a two-out, run-scoring single on a liner to right.

The Pirates tied the game 1-1 in the fifth when Gregor Polanco hit a two-run homer off righty Dillon Tate.

The Yankees' winning rally began with Jace Peterson working a leadoff walk off Pirates right-hander Rich Rodriguez with a ground single to left and Andujar following with a ground single to left.

Next up was McKinney, a left-handed-hitting corner outfielder who recently started playing first and was there in reserve Saturday, 

McKinney got a pitch to his liking and skied a high fly to right that carried over the wall for a 4-1 Yankees lead that held up when righty Jonathan Holder worked a scoreless ninth for the save.

"We strung together a few at-bats in that (ninth) inning," Boone said. "Jace was real patient there, Miggy had some good swings all day and finally found a hole with one and then McKinney just dropped the head (of the bat) on a ball and it us some late runs."


-- Battling a strong wind that was blowing out to left, Yankees left fielder Clint Frazier saved a run in the second inning when he fell and crashed into the wall head first just after making a nice running catch to rob Ryan Lavarnway with a runner on first and two down.

-- Frazier led off the Yankees fourth with a line single to left, then he was picked off first base.

-- Tyler Austin started at first base and was 0-for-3 with two stirkeouts.

-- Yankees starter Domingo German worked two shutout innings, allowing two hits with two strikeouts and two walks. The righty escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the first by getting Jordy Mercer to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play.

-- Estevan Florial, one of the Yankees' best prospects, started in center and was 1-for-3 with a sixth-inning triple on a liner to right.


Sunday: Yankees vs. Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., 1:05 p.m. LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Aaron Nola.

Monday: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Yankees in Tampa, 6:35 p.m. RHP Ben Lively vs. RHP Sonny Gray.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 10:31AM #53
Posts: 32,868

Yankees Preview: Jordan Montgomery’s Spring Training debut

Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery will take the mound against the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday in his first start of Spring Training.

After a breakout season in 2017, Yankees fans are eager to see Jordan Montgomery improve on what was a very successful rookie campaign.

Last season, a rotation lacking in enough bodies at the start was rounded out by the surprise performance of Montgomery. The lanky lefty took advantage of the opportunity and helped the Yanks to a breakout 91-win season.

Montgomery finished sixth in the Rookie of the Year voting, after posting a 9-7 record and a 3.88 ERA in 29 games, in spite of a brief demotion to Triple-A Scranton in August.

Monty’s removal from the 25-man roster had something to do with the fatigue he suffered in the second half of the season and therefore affected his usual steady control.

However, after returning to the big league club, Montgomery finished strongly with a 1.04 ERA over his final three starts.

Jason Cohen of Pinstripealley.com writes:

He was valuable as a 2.7-win pitcher with a solid 8.34 K/9 and impressive 2.95 BB/9, but also for holding up over the course of the full season. The 155 innings he provided proved to be a godsend for this team.

Montgomery successfully ate innings and brought above-average control of five different offerings to his game: a curve (81 mph), sinker (92 mph), changeup (85 mph,) four-seam fastball (92 mph) and slider (86 mph) — per Brooksbaseball.com.

In a recent interview with NJ.com, Montgomery described how he felt about his pitching performance last season:

I didn’t make many adjustments,” he said. “My fastball was inconsistent, my changeup was gone and I really kind of got through the year with two pitches. If I hadn’t had my curveball and wasn’t able to expand with it, who knows what would have happened? [But] it’s kind of good knowing I got through it without my best pitch, which is my changeup.

If this is any indication, fans can look forward to watching Montgomery grow as a big leaguer as he expands his pitch selection this season. It’s hard to imagine the success he could have if he’d had his changeup working, which Monty believes is his best pitch.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 10:32AM #54
Posts: 32,868

Why Yankees' Clint Frazier isn't buying logic there's no roster spot for him

Yankees left fielder Clint Frazier makes a circus catch on a wind-blown flyball during the fourth inning of Friday's 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Fla. (Kim Klement | USA TODAY Sports)

By Randy Miller rmiller@njadvancemedia.com,
NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A little simple math was presented to Clint Frazier on Saturday during the late innings of the Yankees' 4-1 Grapefruit League win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Three plus one plus one is five, as in the Yankees will carry three starting outfielders (Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks), plus one who will do a lot of DHing (Giancarlo Stanton), plus one who primarily will be a backup (Jacoby Ellsbury).

That's five, and there's no room for sixth on a 25-man roster in which the Yankees will carry 12 pitchers, nine everyday players (counting the DH) and a four-man bench that includes a backup catcher, a utility infielder, a backup first baseman and Ellsbury as the extra outfielder.

That leaves Frazier, a corner outfielder who graduated last year from prospect to promising young big-leaguer status, almost certainly heading to Triple-A unless something bad happens to one of the Yankees' other outfielders this spring.

Frazier is no dummy, so you'd think he knows what he's up against.

Or maybe not.

"My eyes are set on Opening Day," Frazier said, and he was talking about the Yankees' season opener in Toronto on March 29, not Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's first game April 6 against Syracuse in Moosic, Pa.

"I'm here to win a spot like everyone else is," he went on. "That's going to be the same answer I give from here on out. In my head, I'm breaking with the team. That's the goal and that's the vision that I have for myself."

After finishing his thought, Frazier was asked if he wonders how his vision can become reality.

Is he thinking his spring is going to be so great that the Yankees will be forced to keep him?

Is he thinking someone probably will get hurt?

"I just go up to the batter's box, man," Frazier answered. "I'm not worried about what's going to happen. I've been up there (in the big leagues) before and I know that people know that I can play up there. It's just a matter of getting the chances."

This wasn't Frazier bragging or anything like that. This is just a young man who gained a ton of confidence hitting .290 with 13 RBIs in his first 18 big-league games, and even though that led into a bad finish in which he hit .168 with four RBIs in his final 21 games, his swag is back.

Frazier made some offseason changes to his swing, switches that he feels unintentionally have him mimicking Indians star shortstop Francisco Lindor, and he looked good at the plate going 1-for-3 with a line single and a lineout to left against the Pirates.

His baserunning wasn't good, as he was picked off first base by a right-hander, and he was adventurous in left field when he backpedaled and backpedaled before pulling in a wind-blown flyball with a leaping catch on the warning track that led into a stumble and then a back-of-the-head bump into the chain-link left field fence.

Trying to be funny, Frazier pointed to his head and joked, "There's not a lot going on in there."

On the contrary, the mind games that Frazier's playing with himself this spring are mentally preparing him to be ready to help the Yankees if and when they need him.

That's the way new manager Aaron Boone took Frazier saying he's planning to head north with the Yankees.

"I love it," Boone said. "I want him to expect a lot out of himself because he's got a lot of ability and I know he's worked really hard to put himself in a good spot to take advantage of opportunities. ... I've been really happy with what I've seen the first couple days."

2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 10:33AM #55
Posts: 32,868

A-Rod rejoins Yankees, Nick Swisher added as special advisor

Alex Rodriguez is back with the Yankees. So is Nick Swisher. This morning the Yankees announced A-Rod, Hideki Matsui, and Reggie Jackson are returning to the Yankees as special advisors to Brian Cashman, and Swisher has been hired in the same capacity. I imagine this means A-Rod will be in camp at some point.

Matsui and especially Reggie have been special advisors for years now. They just have new contracts. Rodriguez had served as a special advisor after being released in August 2016 through the end of his player contract in 2017. Hal Steinbrenner said a few weeks ago he was talking to Alex about bringing him in back in some capacity.

As for Swisher, he announced his retirement last February and is getting back into baseball after the proverbial year away from the game. He helped out during Captain’s Camp and is in Spring Training as a guest instructor. Now he has a full-time front office gig with the Yankees. How about that?

In the past A-Rod, Matsui, and Reggie worked primarily on the minor league side, traveling to the various affiliates to work with prospects. I imagine Swisher will do the same as well. The Yankees offered Carlos Beltran a special advisor job earlier this offseason, but he opted to step away and spend a year with his family.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 10:37AM #56
Posts: 32,868

Chasen Shreve’s days as a Yankee could be numbered

Without any more minor league options, Shreve could hit the waiver wire sooner rather than later

It’s possible that we won’t see Chasen Shreve in a Yankee uniform for very long this season. The 27-year-old lefty reliever is unquestionably the last man in the Yankees’ bullpen and now out of minor league options. Considering his past performance and all the other arms in the minor leagues, Shreve could find himself out of a gig without a strong showing this spring.

The Yankees first landed Shreve back before the 2015 season in a trade that sent Manny Banuelos to the Braves and David Carpenter and Shreve to the Yankees. Despite being the second piece in the deal, Shreve has found more success than either Banuelos or Carpenter. Across 140 games the past three seasons, Shreve has been a mainstay in the Yankee pen, but he has certainly had his ups and downs in that time.

There are more than a few red flags in Shreve’s history that indicate his time with the Yankees could be coming to an end. Shreve seems to wear down by season’s end. In each of the last three seasons, he’s significantly underperformed in the second half compared to his first half numbers. Despite using a splitter as his best secondary offering, Shreve doesn’t really generate groundballs. His 37.4% groundball rate last season was below average, and his 5.0 BB/9 rate last year only compounded the problems. Finally, he doesn’t really appear to be very tough on lefties. His career lefty-righty splits are about equal (100 tOPS+ against LHB vs. 99 tOPS+ against RHB). Free passes and fly balls aren’t going to do a pitcher any favors in Yankee Stadium, especially against lefties.

Still, there are undoubtedly some good things in Shreve’s stat line, or he wouldn’t have hung around so long. His K/9 rate has hovered around 10 during his years in pinstripes, and his 112 ERA+ in that time shows that Shreve has been a slightly above average relief pitcher, especially during the early months of the season. For a low-leverage reliever like Shreve, those numbers will serve, but without any more minor league options, the Yankees have lost some bullpen flexibility.

Without any more minor league options, the Yankees will have to expose Shreve to waivers in order to be able to send him to the minors. Given that he has shown to be effective in spurts, it figures that Shreve would be claimed. In order to keep Shreve on the roster, the Yankees would likely either have to demote a different pitcher or a position player in place of Shreve. Chad Green and Tommy Kahnle are the only other bullpen arms with option years left, but they play a far more vital role than Shreve. On the other hand, the Yankees used a short bench for sizable stretches last season, but to do so in order to protect a low-leverage arm like Shreve seems less than ideal. While neither option really makes sense, the latter seems far more likely than the former.

Fortunately, it appears there are more than a few capable arms on the 40-man or in the upper-minor leagues that could slide in to the seventh spot in the bullpen if needed. Luis CessaGiovanny GallegosDomingo GermanJonathan Holder, and Ben Heller all have major league innings under their belts and are all on the 40-man roster. Plus, non-40-man players like JP Feyereisen and Cody Carroll figure to be in the upper-minor leagues this season and could feasibly make their big league debuts in 2018. Finally, there’s always the off-chance someone like Chance Adams could find his way to the pen, as many before me have suggested.

For the time being, Chasen Shreve still occupies the seventh spot in the bullpen. While he has shown that he can be an effective reliever, especially in low-leverage situations, it seems as if the tide might be turning against him. Without any minor league options left and several arms knocking at the big league door, it’ll take a very strong performance from Shreve this spring for him to hold down his job for the foreseeable future.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 10:38AM #57
Posts: 32,868

Aaron Boone: ‘I want us to be obsessed with controlling the strike zone’

Boone wants his batters to concentrate on bearing down on full counts.

New York Yankees Aaron Boone before the start of his Spring Training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Lemcom Park in Bradenton on Feb. 24, 2018. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

By Erik Boland
erik.boland@newsday.com @eboland11

BRADENTON, Fla. — The Yankees worked seven walks in their exhibition opener against the Tigers on Friday and drew five more against the Pirates on Saturday.

It’s exactly what Aaron Boone is looking for.

“I want us to be obsessed with controlling the strike zone,” Boone said before his team’s 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh. “That’s one of the bumper stickers, if you will. I know Marcus [Thames, the hitting coach] and P.J. [Pilittere, Thames’ assistant] are really driving that message home with our guys. We want to be great at that.”

In many ways, it would be a continuation of something the Yankees excelled at last season. The Yankees ranked first in the American League in walks (616) and third in on-base percentage (.339) and OPS (.785) in 2017.

“We feel like if we do that, with our [slugging] potential, when you’re controlling the strike zone, that’s a dangerous combination,” Boone said.

He said he wants his batters to concentrate on bearing down on full counts.

“That’s a count we want to win on both sides, and I was excited by what I saw [Friday] from a lot of the at-bats, even some lefty-on-lefty at-bats, where I thought guys were aggressive in the strike zone but showed the ability to lay off some borderline as well,” Boone said. “We want to be a team that gets really, really good and really laser-focused, especially on 3-2 counts. Kind of equate it to third-down conversions. Three-two, we want to win those on both sides.”

The Yankees, of course, also struck out plenty last season, ranking sixth in the AL in that category with 1,386.

“We want to be uber-aggressive and lethal in the strike zone,” Boone said. “Yeah, we’re going to strike out some, but if we’re really controlling the strike zone at a high level, it’s going to end up resulting in a lot of runs for us, just because of what we’re capable of from a power standpoint. But I just want us to, as a mantra, we walk in each day, these guys are just obsessed with controlling it. I want that to be their mindset.”

Drury fine
Brandon Drury made his Yankees debut, starting at third base and going 1-for-1. Drury was hit in the left hand by Clay Holmes’ fastball in his second at-bat, which came in the third inning, but stayed in the game. He received ice treatment after leaving the game in the fifth, and X-rays were not deemed necessary.

“It kind of scared me at first,” Drury said. “But when I got to first, I could tell I was good. Now it feels great. I’m 100 percent.”

He also made a diving stop to his right of Eric Woods’ ground smash in the second inning, but first baseman Tyler Austin failed to scoop the throw out of the dirt.

As part of an eventful afternoon for Clint Frazier, which included falling on his rear end on the warning track in left after making a leaping catch near the wall, he was picked off first by Holmes in the fourth after leading off with a line-drive single to left.

“I can’t get picked off by a righthanded pitcher,” Frazier said. “That’s not a good spot to be in.”

Extra bases
Billy McKinney, who had a burst-on-the-scene spring training a year ago, hit a three-run homer in the ninth to snap a 1-1 tie . . . Domingo German started and allowed two hits and two walks in two scoreless innings. German, who was happy with his secondary pitches, struck out two.

2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 10:39AM #58
Posts: 32,868

Clint Frazier, Estevan Florial — both are different points in development — show why Yankees have such high hopes for them

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Clint Frazier's "legendary bat speed" and Estevan Florial's five-tool potential are attributes that people within the Yankees' organization often say are "easy to dream on."

The two outfielders are at different stages of their development -- with different goals in mind for 2018 -- but both showed off their skillsets in the Bombers' 4-1 victory over the Pirates on Saturday at LECOM Park.

Frazier, 23, hit the ball on the screws twice -- a single and a lineout -- while also having another adventure in left, this time fighting the sun and wind to make a leaping catch and avoid a head injury when he fell and banged against the wall. "He flashes a lot of stuff out there," Aaron Boone said with a laugh.

The odds may be stacked against Frazier cracking the Opening Day roster, but "Red Thunder" has other ideas.

"I'm here to win a spot," the always confident Frazier said. "That's the same answer I'm going to give from here on out. In my head, I'm breaking camp with the team. That's the vision I have for myself. That's the goal."

During the offseason, Frazier and his agent worked on quieting his hitting mechanics. One scout said it was imperative for him to lessen the amount of moving parts in his swing, because opposing teams are always finding weakness and then attacking it.

For Frazier, that meant slimming down his hitch so he could handle the inside pitch. It also meant toning down his big leg kick, which he wasn't able to land consistently. He watched other players his size like Indians All-Star shortstop Francisco Lindor, trying to see why they were successful.

"This is the best I've felt in terms of being aware of what my body is doing," said Frazier, who considers himself an upper-body hitter. "In the past, I just tried to muscle everything. I needed something to change."

On Saturday, Frazier raised the bat off his shoulder, another adjustment to be a bit quicker. "I'm tinkering with that," he said. "But I don't want to change anything from here on out."

The 20-year-old Florial, on the other hand, hasn't played above A-Ball yet. But he's already garnering praise from baseball people everywhere, who wonder just how high his ceiling is.

You can see why.

Florial struck out in his first two at-bats - the second against a breaking ball, a pitch he's going to need to learn to hit, according to scouts - but he also flashed his blazing speed as well, coasting into third after rocking a triple to the right-centerfield gap.

"He looks the part," Boone said. "He's someone me and the coaches get excited, like, 'Oh, Flo is going in.' You just get excited to see what he can do. (The triple) was no surprise to us. The talent is real."

Frazier's immediate future is still uncertain, and the possibility always exists that the Bombers could look to try and trade him as part of a package for a starting pitching upgrade down the line. If not, it seems like a lot of things would need to break right for him to be in a Yankee uniform come late March.

Still, he's always trying to make something happen.

As for Florial, well, he's not going anywhere.

The Yankees have big plans in store for him in the years to come - as long as he can live up to the hype.

"Early on, we're going to see a lot of young guys taking risks, because we're trying to show what we can do," said Frazier, who also got picked off trying to swipe second Saturday after doing so successfully on Friday.

"I'm trying to make the team, so I feel like it's a showcase for me right now."

2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 11:06AM #59
Posts: 32,868
2 years ago  ::  Feb 25, 2018 - 1:26PM #60
Posts: 3,341
Yankees showing interest in Lance Lynnn according to MLB.com
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