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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 2/26/21

Brett Gardner excited after “frustrating” winter; Clint Frazier ready for starting job; pitchers looking to try out the new baseballs; some highlights from spring training workouts

American League Wild Card Game 1: New York Yankees v. Cleveland Indians Photo by Joe Sargent/MLB Photos via Getty Images

WFAN | Ryan Chichester: Although, technically-speaking, both retirement and playing for another team were on the table, Brett Gardner’s heart never stopped hoping that he would return to the Bronx for the 2021 season. This season, however, will be unlike any since the beginning of his career, as this will be the first time in almost a decade that Gardner will not be a member of the normal starting lineup, but he holds no hard feelings: “Whatever the team needs me to do to help on a daily basis, I’ll be ready. Whatever my role is, I accept it.”

New York Post | Ken Davidoff: Of course, the main reason that Gardner will not be starting is because after years of bouncing between the starting lineup, the bench, and Scranton, Clint Frazier finally had the opportunity to seize a starting job in the outfield at the end of the 2020 season. Frazier has endured a rollercoaster so far in his time on the Yankees, having played exactly 162 games over four seasons, due to a combination of injuries and defensive woes. For the first time, however, the clock will be ticking not towards a trip to Scranton, but to Opening Day on the New York Yankees.

New York Daily News | Kristie Ackert: One of the biggest news stories of the offseason was the fact that the Major League Baseball will be changing the ball in order to try to reduce the home run rate. Not surprisingly, the league’s pitchers, including Yankees ace Gerrit Cole, have been itching to get their hands on the new balls, to see how they respond. So far, however, there hasn’t been any clarity: “Nobody can tell me if we’re using the real balls from this year’s [batch], or the balls from last year,” Cole said.

Sports Illustrated | Max Goodman: For those unable to keep a close eye on Twitter to receive a play-by-play of Yankees spring training workouts, Goodman provides a breakdown of the goings-on from Wednesday. Of note, Giancarlo Stanton joined Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, and Clint Frazier in outfield workouts, shagging fly balls in the outfield. New starting pitcher Jameson Taillon, meanwhile, bounced back from a slow start in a simulated game, while Michael King struck out four of the eight batters he faced (the YES Network’s Jack Curry also noted that King will be starting the spring opener on Sunday). Lastly, Gio Urshela looked good recovering from offseason elbow surgery.