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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 3/9/19

MLB to try new rules out in independent league; Yankees give update on Gregorius timeline; Boone discusses roster battles; Kirby Yates credits Yankees for revival

MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

SNY: The minor leagues and independent baseball are sometimes guinea pigs for MLB rules. Now the independent Atlantic League will be the latest one to try out some new ideas. Under a three-year agreement, the Atlantic League will use a TrackMan system to assist umpires (inching closer to full-on robot umpires), moving the mound back two feet, imposing a ban on shifts, and requiring pitchers to face at least three batters before being eligible to be removed.

Some of these rules seem realistic, while others are outlandish. I suppose that’s why the league is testing them out. Yankees fans in the New York area can check out the new rules at the local Somerset Patriots or Long Island Ducks. | Randy Miller: The loss of Didi Gregorius to Tommy John surgery left the Yankees without one of their best players. However, Gregorius is taking steps towards his return. He has been working out with a fungo bat, and will take dry swings with a regular bat shortly. After he works his way up towards batting practice, Gregorius’ final step will be being cleared to throw. At that point, Aaron Boone says the Yankees can figure out a target date for Sir Didi’s return.

SNY | Matt Eisenberg: Clint Frazier is finally healthy, but he still has a long way to go before he is back in the Bronx. His spring training numbers aren’t great, and Boone reiterated that Frazier needs to play every day. This most likely indicates that he will start 2019 with Triple-A Scranton. Boone also discussed the first base competition, and again said that it will be either Greg Bird or Luke Voit on the roster, and not both.

New York Post | Ken Davidoff: Reliever Kirby Yates didn’t have the most memorable stint as a Yankee in 2016, but he credits that very run as the key to his MLB resurgence. Now a reliable reliever in San Diego, Yates discovered his split-fingered pitch in his brief tenure as a Yankee, and cites Masahiro Tanaka, Nate Eovaldi and Chasen Shreve as key helpers in figuring out the pitch grip.