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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/21/17

Niese eyes bullpen spot; Pitchers practice fielding; Bird focused on proving health; Warren & Mitchell should be long relievers; NYY should extend Girardi now; Cashman rooting for youth movement; Jose Canseco fears robot uprising

MLB: New York Yankees-Workouts
“Use the force, Luke—uh—Bryan”
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

New York Post | George A. King III: When the Yankees signed Jon Niese to a MiLB deal, it was said that the team viewed Niese as a starter and reliever. That didn’t last long. Yesterday Joe Girardi confirmed that Niese is currently competing for a bullpen job. Niese said he’s open to any role the Yankees have for him; he’s just hoping to make the team. His deal is for $1.25 million, but has a $750,000 roster bonus if he makes the big league club. If Niese doesn’t get offered a spot on the 25-man roster, he can opt out of his contract, and if he does get a spot on the team, he can opt-out in May.

New York Times | Billy Witz: Last season, Yankees pitchers committed 19 errors which was “good” for second-highest in the AL, and the highest of Girardi’s tenure as Yankee manager. Girardi has no interest in seeing that repeat this year. This is why the intensity was higher on Monday when pitchers were practicing their fielding drills. Girardi notified his pitchers last week that drills would be different this year, shorter in duration but higher intensity. Dellin Betances, who struggled mightily in throwing to first base, showed some early promise when he fielded a bunt down the third base line and fired a strike to first.

New York Daily News | Mike Mazzeo: Greg Bird knows that the biggest thing he has to do this spring is prove that he’s healthy. When the team signed Chris Carter, some might have wondered if he was here as competition for Bird, but Bird doesn’t see Carter that way. Bird thinks the team acquired a good bat, but is too focused on proving his health and getting back in playing shape to worry about Carter. The Yankees have an incredible history at first base, hopefully Bird is the next one in line.

New York Post | Joel Sherman: While Girardi would love to have the standard five-man rotation and bullpen combo for his pitching staff, he understands he doesn’t have the most typical staff and is willing to adapt to the circumstances. Assuming Luis Cessa and Luis Severino get the two open rotation spots, Girardi should consider using Bryan Mitchell and Adam Warren in long-relief roles. Instead of trying to grind out five innings from his starters, Girardi could use Warren and Mitchell early and for multiple innings because they’ll be stretched out as starters. Instead of a typical 60-70 innings relievers throw, aim for about 100 innings from those two.

CBS | Ernie Palladino: The Yankees seem content with letting Girardi play out the last year of his contract and evaluating things at the end of the year. Both sides seem to be happy with each other, so more likely than not Girardi will be in the Yankees dugout for the foreseeable future. However, if he gets a chance to test the open market, Girardi will have plenty of suitors, so the Yankees shouldn’t wait to give Girardi a contract extension. Sure, Girardi has his flaws (every manager does) but overall, he’s done a very good job of guiding this team through its rebuilding years and deserves a chance at leading the new group of Baby Bombers.

Boston Herald | Evan Drellich: Remember the days when the Yankees and Red Sox would get into bidding wars for free agents and drive the prices up? As evidenced by a relatively quiet winter from both sides (in the free agent market), it seems those days are in the past. Brian Cashman says that though they’re waiting for some contracts to expire, he’s not planning on spending all that money the second it comes off the books. He’s hoping that at least some of the players the organization has recently acquired can develop so he can avoid throwing big bucks around in free agency.

New York Daily News | Jake Becker: Former Yankee Jose Canseco thinks the robot uprising is right around the corner and that human beings need wake up and stop it from happening. Although he admits they won’t “physically attack and kill us like in the movies,” he does warn us that robots are stealing our jobs and “bringing economic ruin to us human by human starving us to death one by one.” When I accepted an offer to join the staff here at Pinstripe Alley, I can honestly say I never expected to be writing about the robot uprising. Yet here we are. Maybe Canseco just finished watching the Terminator documentary series?