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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 3/29/17

Girardi unveils new lineup; Rotation competition down to four; Judge on the right track; Niese returns; Hope for the back of the rotation; Fans looking forward to future

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MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Ellsgard no more? </3
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

New York Daily News | Mike Mazzeo: Joe Girardi unveiled a fancy new lineup before Tuesday’s spring training game. For the first time this spring, Girardi actually broke up Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup, with the former still leading off but the latter dropping to fifth. Girardi says that this lineup could very well be the one he sends out on Opening Day. My only suggestion would be to swap Aaron Hicks with Aaron Judge.

CBS New York: The Yankees battle for the final two spots in the rotation is coming down to the wire. With less than a week remaining until Opening Day, one would think the team would have a good picture of what the rotation will be like. The Yankees, though, have only been able to narrow it down from six to four candidates for two spots. Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell, and Chad Green are all still in the mix, after Luis Cessa was optioned to Triple-A and Joe Girardi confirmed that Adam Warren will start in the bullpen.

FanGraphs | Travis Sawchik: It’s no secret that Aaron Judge struggled in his major league audition last year. Though his power was on display from his first at-bat, so were his contact issues. This spring, however, Judge seems to have gotten on the right track. Judge said he spent most of the winter researching videos of at-bats from hitters like Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, Matt Holliday, Giancarlo Stanton, and Alex Rodriguez—not a bad group of people to learn from.

MLB Trade Rumors | Connor Byrne: Championship: reacquired. After the Yankees’ 2017 World Series hopes took a major blow on Sunday, the Yankees acted fast to rectify their mistake. After releasing Jonathon Niese on Sunday, the Yankees brought him back on the same minor league deal he was previously signed to. The team released him as a courtesy to see if he could find a major league gig elsewhere, with the understanding that if he failed to secure a gig, he’d return to the organization.

FanGraphs | Eno Sarris: With the infusion of youth in the lineup, the team’s offense looks promising heading into 2017. The big question, as it’s always been, has been about the rotation, specifically how the back of it will round out. While projections don’t love the Yankees’ depth or options there, there are reasons to be hopeful. Mainly, all the candidates come with solid velocity. And a good fastball is a good starting point for any starting pitcher.

Associated Press via USA Today: Most fan bases start the season looking forward to Opening Day, the same holds true for Yankee fans. The only difference is that Yankee fans are probably more interested in future Opening Days. While fans are still excited for this year and to see what Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Aaron Judge can do over a full season, it’s understandable to look forward to a future that includes them possibly teaming with Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, James Kaprielian, and others.