The Yankees cleared up a whole lot of questions on Monday by announcing a handful of roster decisions. Here's a rundown based upon news gathered from the various beat reporters:
• The happiest news is that Eric Chavez has made the club as a backup corner infielder. The 33-year-old six-time Gold Glove winner has served five stints on the 60-day disabled list in the past four years for a litany of lower back, shoulder, elbow and neck injuries, and he's been limited to just 64 games over the previous three seasons while hitting .222/.265/.330. Despite that dismal stretch, he's been the picture of health this spring, scalding the ball at a .405/.432/.571 clip in 44 PA. He's the owner of a career .267/.343/.478 line at the major league level, and there's hope that the Yankees can tap some of the skill he showed during his time at Oakland.
At the very least, Chavez might run into the occasional fastball and do some damage, which is more than can be said for Ramiro Peña, who was optioned to Triple-A. That leaves Eduardo Nuñez as the team's backup middle infielder, a decision which was based upon his superior speed and hitting ability relative to Peña. Nonroster invitee Ronnie Belliard was released after going just 3-for-22 and probably because the Yankees couldn't stand the sight of his tongue.
• The less happy news — unless you're one of his relatives, I suppose — is that Gustavo "No Relation" Molina will open the season as the team's backup catcher, with Jesus Montero heading to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Austin Romine bound for Double-A Trenton. As discussed last week, neither youngster has hit well (though the latter went deep over the weekend, which is something the former has yet to do) and the Yankees rightly concluded that both are better served by playing every day until the Yankees have a more obvious need. Russell "The Unreliable Narrator" Martin getting hurt or playing down to his uninspired performances of the past couple of years could fit that bill, so it's not as though all hope is lost for seeing Montero again this year. I believe Steve has more to say on the topic of Molina, who couldn't hit his way out of a wet paper bag, so I won't flog that particular horse.
• With the Yankees' Monday night game rained out in Tampa, the team has yet to test the fitness of Curtis Granderson's oblique with regards to opening day; he has been cleared to play in minor league games Tuesday and Wednesday. The Yanks are still hopeful that new recruit Chris Dickerson's hamstring strain, which he suffered after going 3-for-3 in his debut, isn't serious enough to bump him off the 25-man roster. Take it as a positive sign that outfielder Justin Maxwell was also optioned to Triple-A.
• Pedro Feliciano will start the year on the DL due to an ongoing triceps issue, which he believes will keep him out for a couple of weeks. Retread righty Luis Ayala and 24-year-old lefty Steve Garrison, who has just 22.1 innings of Triple-A under his belt, are options to replace him on the roster, though the winner's stay is likely to be short.
• Romulo Sanchez, who was out of options, has been sold to a Japanese team of unspecified identity. Mark Prior, who's been one of the biggest surprises in camp with a 1.17 ERA and 11 Ks in 7.2 innings, will remain in extended spring training after the big club breaks camp, because he has yet to work back-to-back days this spring, a crucial qualification for carving out a big league roster spot. He's likely Scranton-bound once he clears a few more hurdles.
While this doesn't tie up every loose end, it appears as though the number of roster decisions facing the Yankees over the next few days is now small enough to count on one hand.