Some minor but expected news dropped this morning as the Yankees made a move to clear a spot on their roster, almost certainly to bring up a pitcher. Per Dan Pfeiffer and the Yankees' transaction log:
Austin Romine has been optioned to AAA #Yankees— Dan Pfeiffer (@danpfeiffer74) April 9, 2014
It's kind of interesting that the Yankees didn't send down Vidal Nuno, who threw 67 pitches in 3 1/3 innings of mop-up duty yesterday, but I suppose they probably want to keep him on the roster in case they need him once he's ready to pitch again. If they demoted him, they would not be able to recall him for another 10 days unless someone got hurt, so it makes sense to just let him rest in the bullpen for a couple days.
Despite his rocky performance against the Orioles, Nuno is still probably a better option than the other relievers currently on the 40-man roster. Since Romine was basically a third-string catcher, he was expendable. Demoting a position player for a pitcher makes the bench light, but it's not like Romine provided much value or versatility anyway. The only thing he helped with was allowing Joe Girardi to start both Brian McCann and Francisco Cervelli in the same lineup while still having a catcher on the bench. Of course, he could still do start them in the same lineup anyway if he wants to use Cervelli at first base again since it's not like he would be at risk for losing the DH or anything like that.
Anyway, the Yankees have not yet officially announced who will be recalled, but it's fairly easy to read between the lines about who's coming up. Just ask Sweeny Murti:
Yanks could use a reliever tomorrow. P Claiborne & S. Greene only 40-man choices. Greene had great spring. Claiborne pitched tonight. Hmm.— Sweeny Murti (@YankeesWFAN) April 9, 2014
Furthermore, when the Yankees sent David Robertson to the DL, Brian Cashman said that they would decide who to call up between Cesar Cabral and Shane Greene, not mentioning Preston Claiborne. They called up Cabral and as Murti noted, Claiborne pitched for Scranton on Tuesday night. They seemed pretty down on Claiborne at the end of spring training given his awful results, so even though there have been injuries, it would be a surprise to see him back so soon.
That leaves Greene, as the Yankees would have to DFA someone to add another Triple-A reliever who lasted awhile in spring training, like Matt Daley or Fred Lewis. Since the pitcher they call up isn't likely to play much or stay on the team very long, it's understandable why they wouldn't want to cut ties with one of their players on the 40-man roster just to apply a quick fix to the big league squad. Plus, Greene is a fine short-term call-up.
Girardi and the coaches seemed to be quite impressed with Greene in spring training, as despite his 4.70 ERA in 7 2/3 innings, he struck out 10 batters and walked just one. Obviously, what the coaches saw from him beyond from the ERA figure matters more, so it's good that Girardi liked what he saw from the 25-year-old righthander. He'll allow his share of hits, but he makes up for it with solid strikeout and walk rates.
Greene had the best minor league season of his young career last year, as he pitched to a 3.60 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 8.2 K/9, and 1.2 BB/9 in 13 starts for High-A Tampa, earning a spot on the Florida State League All-Star Team and a promotion to Double-A Trenton in mid-June. From then on, he was just as steady for the Thunder in 14 games (13 starts), notching a 3.18 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 7.7 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9 during the rest of the season. He got better as the season went on and ended his regular season with a three-hit seven-inning shutout against Boston's Triple-A club on August 31st, then pitched 11 innings of three-run ball with 11 strikeouts over two playoff starts for the Thunder as they won the Eastern League championship. Greene was named in spring training as the Yankees' Minor Leaguer Pitcher of the Year for 2013. He was set to begin 2014 with Triple-Scranton, his first minor league experience above Double-A.
Jesse wrote about Greene when Pinstripe Alley did prospect profiles during the off-season, and here's what he had to say about Greene's repertoire:
Greene, 25, features a four-seam fastball that sits mostly between 92-94 mph, but he can get it up to as high as 97 mph. He also possesses a two-seam fastball, which helped him record a 47% ground-ball rate last year, that sits more in the low-90's. As for breaking and off-speed stuff, Greene uses a slider as his main out-pitch and also has a change up that is improving.
I recommend reading that post for more about Greene and also checking out Jason's interview with him last October. He might not pitch much in the Bronx if called up, but he should be a fine arm to have around while D-Rob is on the mend or until the Yankees decide to reinforce the bench.
#Yankees option catcher Austin Romine to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and recall RHP Shane Greene from Triple-A.— New York Yankees (@Yankees) April 9, 2014