by Patrick Gunn
February 27, 2023
The Yankees are back…for Spring Training baseball, that is. The Bombers have taken the field with some new faces and a lot of new rules to learn about on the fly. We saw a pitch clock violation end a game with a tie and a strikeout with the bases loaded and two outs:
Yeah, so a lot to overreact to this Spring so far. Here are some brief and scattered thoughts:
I missed both of the Yankees’ Sunday games, but I did watch most of the Bomber’s debut against the Phillies. The pitch clock never felt overbearing to me. The pitchers were going at a quicker pace, but I think it helped that so many of the players in the game were used to the clock from the minors. How the veteran pitchers react will be interesting. Also of note: for a game with so many base runners, the pick-off rule never came into play. I’ll admit this game may be an outlier in that regard - Anthony Volpe alone stole two bases against Toronto. That game felt like a normal Spring Training baseball game and it was refreshing.
I will say that I was surprised the game ended so quickly - at two and a half hours - for a game with more than 20 combined base runners. Seems like the early spring games have indicated a quicker pace, but it’s just the first weekend of Spring Training. Not much to make of there.
It is odd to see a batter called out for being a second late into the batters’ box. I imagine teams will get better, but I hope that umpires and the clocks are not moving at too fast of a pace.
On the Yankees front: glad to see Gleyber Torres off to a nice start. It is far too early to tell if his spring numbers will translate, but notching four hits in your first five at-bats with a home run and a double is solid (side note: Torres has a .305 BA/.364 OBP/.598 SLG slash line in his Spring Training career.)
Yankees fans: welcome to planet Jasson Dominguez. The Martian made his presence known in his first spring game of the year with a bomb:
Besides the home run, I liked Dominguez’s patience in his first two at-bats. He took a borderline pitch that got called a ball before getting ahead 3-0 in his first at-bat. He pulled a hard ground ball that ended up right at the first baseman but made solid contact (102.7 mph exit velocity per Savant). He got ahead 3-1 before popping out on a tough pitch in his final at-bat. Two normal at-bats, but Dominguez got into comfortable counts. Again, nothing to take away here it’s three at-bats, but I enjoyed watching Dominguez hit.
These next couple of months are going to feature a lot of experimentation with the new rules. I’m curious what would happen if a second baseman or shortstop starts right in line with the second base bag, or a pitcher tries out different deliveries, or how many base runners try stealing because of the pick-off rule. There’s some fun potential as the games don’t count to see what different players try or don’t try.