Early Thoughts on the Yankees Spring Training
Some of my favorite moments from February are always seeing baseball sprout back up in Florida and Arizona. Just hearing the crack of the bat can get me through a grey, late winter day (although the weather was pretty nice this weekend in Syracuse).
With that, the Yankees begun their 2020 campaign this week with two early Spring Training games. Here are a few of my brief thoughts on where the team is right now.
With Luis Severino’s status up in the air and James Paxton’s surgery, J.A. Happ has become an incredibly important starting pitcher for the Yankees. He may break camp as the Bomber’s third starter behind Cole and Tanaka if Sevy misses time.
Happ’s first steps into this season were fantastic. His two perfect innings featured a solid mix of pitches and a little bit of life on his fastball. Yes, it was his first outing of the spring, but the command he had was something rarely showed in his outings last season. Given the Yankees’ injury track record, Happ can elevate this team to unimaginable heights if he can pick up his performance.
DO THE DU:
I’m not crazy about that John Sterling home run call, but I was pretty excited to see Miguel Andújar back at the plate. His shoulder injury cost him his third base spot and now forces him to play as a utility player to get at-bats.
However, in his return, Andújar reminded the world why he earned so much praise in his rookie season. He drilled a first pitch offering from Rays’ reliever Anthony Banda to the opposite field just over the wall for his first hit and first home run since he was rehabbing last year.
Andújar’s bat speed and aggressive approach makes not only a dangerous hitter, it also differentiates him from his patient peers. Again, it’s early, but Andújar is showing great signs that he is still elite with the bat in his hands. Now, let’s see how he handles left field.
It’s no secret that the Yankees suffered a ton of injuries last year. This year is not getting off to a great start in that department. Aaron Hicks is already missing time after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the offseason. Paxton is out for the next two months after having back surgery. Severino is getting tests on his right forearm after tweaking it while throwing changeups. Aaron Judge is starting camp slowing due to shoulder discomfort.
It’s too early to jump to conclusions about the Yankees’ injuries. All signs indicate that Judge’s shoulder issues are minor, Hicks had Tommy John right after the season ended last year, and Paxton hurt his back last year. It is concerning that the Yankees are seeing several major contributors hurt again, but this is nothing worth creating a storm over either. Yet.
WAITING FOR SOME BIG NAMES:
We’ve gotten a glimpse at the entire infield, but the Bombers’ outfield (aside from Clint Fraizer) has yet to make an appearance over the first two games of the spring. Judge is obviously taking things slow, but Giancarlo Stanton, Brett Gardner, and Mike Tauchman should be taking their first hacks against Major League pitching sooner rather than later.
Going back to the mound, Gerrit Cole makes his first appearance of the spring against his former team in the Pirates (am I the only one who finds that ironic?). Tanaka is slated to make his spring debut on Wednesday, according to ESPN’s Marly Rivera, and the rest of the Yankees’ bullpen will get their first reps throughout the spring.
Spring training games are about getting your timing back, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see these players taking it slow to start the spring. They can take as much time as they need if they are ready to go on Opening Day.