I'm not sure if anyone picked up on this, or if I'm reading too much into it, but a couple of Joe Girardi quotes from Chad Jennings' pre-game notes on Wednesday seemed to hint strongly at the Yankees' plans for the last three pitching spots on the roster. Dig:
• . . . Girardi said they’re talking about shuffling some rotation plans for Saturday and Sunday. Bartolo Colon and Manny Banuelos are being discussed as possible starters this weekend. Colon could go Saturday. "You have to start thinking about, if a guy makes a start on Sunday, and he’s possibly on your team, and he’s possibly going to be the long man, you’re going to limit how many pitches he could possibly give you on Thursday (for the opener)," Girardi said.
• Freddy Garcia will make a minor league start tomorrow. Girardi once again said there’s really nothing Garcia can show the Yankees to impact their decision at this point. This is just about getting him ready.
On the drive down to Princeton last night, Steve and I were talking about the likelihood of Bartolo Colon being able to give the Yankees even 100 innings after not pitching at all last year at the age of 37. Historically speaking, there's no chance (something Steve may elaborate on here or at Baseball Prospectus in the near future), which led me to wonder if the Yankees might make him the long man out of the pen, since he's shown good stuff this spring and a nice combination of a high strikeout rate and low walk rate, and put Freddy Garcia, based as much on his respectable showing over 28 starts last year as on his inconsistent but not disastrous spring performance, in the rotation with Ivan Nova, with Sergio Mitre being the odd man out.
That was speculation, but the above makes it sound very likely. It might just be the way Jennings framed it, but when Girardi says, "if a guy makes a start on Sunday, and he’s possibly on your team, and he’s possibly going to be the long man," he seems to be talking about Colon. If that's the case, what would the Yankees be getting Garcia ready for other than the starting rotation?
For a while I was worried that Nova might get optioned to Triple-A because he's the one candidate who can be safely stashed in the minors (Mitre is out of options and both Colon and Garcia can void their deals if they don't make the 25-man roster), but after Mitre's poor and, perhaps more importantly and tellingly, brief outing on Tuesday, the only remaining role for him seemed to be the long-relief job. However, if that job is Colon's, Mitre is out and Nova is, rightfully, in.
Again, I might be reading a bit to much into this, but I'm willing to believe we have our answer on the Yankees rotation battle: Nova and Garia in the rotation, Colon in the bullpen, and Mitre off the roster. We'll know for sure within a week's time.