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Around the Empire: Yankees news - 3/28/22

Cashman happy with current roster; Yankees take a flier on Shelby Miller; Cole not worried by new sticky stuff regulations; Rortvedt in race against time for Opening Day; Peraza among prospects sent to minor league camp

New York Yankees Spring Training Photo by J. Conrad Williams Jr./Newsday RM via Getty Images

NY Post | Dan Martin: Yankees general manager Brian Cashman stated that while he is not opposed to making any surprise additions to the roster, he is happy with what he has at this point. “Right now, we’re focused on what we have, to be honest,” said Cashman. “There’s nothing more to say at this point.

“I can’t eliminate my ability to try and find ways to improve the club. Ultimately, I like what we have, but it’s my job to stay engaged with everybody out there. My phone isn’t on silent, let’s put it that way. We’re engaged with a lot of clubs, but we’re prepared to go with what we have here and across the street [in minor league camp],” he explained.

This all may not be a good sign for the still-available Brett Gardner, or for potential pitching additions.

MLB Trade Rumors | Mark Polishuk: The Yankees, looking to strike some lightning in a bottle, signed right-hander Shelby Miller to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. He has been wildly inconsistent throughout his career and has suffered more than his fair share of injuries, but he is still somehow 31.

With the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves, he had a 3.22 ERA over 575 1/3 innings from 2012-15, making the All-Star team in the latter season. His career was never the same after he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, though. In an ideal scenario, he could be around for depth purposes if he shows he still has something left in his right arm.

NY Post | Dan Martin: MLB umpires will pay even more attention to pitchers this year, as they try to prevent the use of foreign substances on the ball as much as possible. They will now check hurlers’ hands, too, in addition to their belt and glove. Yankees ace Gerrit Cole saw his performance dip after the league’s crackdown in June of last season, and it took over a month for him to return to some semblance of his earlier form before the hamstring injury that curtailed his final month.

Cole doesn’t seem to be worried about the change and at the very least is glad that it’s uniform across the league. “Not much,” he said on Sunday, after being asked if the new rules will have an impact on him. “It’s just touching your hand now,” he stated. “It doesn’t change anything for what I do.”

According to The Post, there will also be two kinds of rosin used by pitchers around the league: a powdery one ‘to eliminate sweat’ and a tacky one ‘to improve grip if it’s cold.’

NJ Advance Media | Brendan Kuty: Catcher Ben Rortvedt is in a race against time to be ready for Opening Day, scheduled for April 7th against the Boston Red Sox. He was set to catch his first bullpen Sunday since suffering a Grade 1 right oblique strain a few days ago.

Rortvedt is still doubtful for the Red Sox series, though, and the odds of him starting the season on the injured list still appear high. He told reporters that he wasn’t sure about his outlook and that — as the old baseball cliche goes — he’s “taking it day by day.”

Rortvedt did add he hasn’t felt pain taking dry swings, but he doesn’t know exactly when he might take live batting practice or play spring training games. If he’s unavailable for Opening Day, then the Yankees’ most likely alternative is a familiar face from 2021, veteran Rob Brantly, and perhaps David Freitas as well if they want to use one of the 28 roster spots for April on a third catcher.

Lastly, the Yankees made quite a few cuts after Sunday’s game, optioning infielders Oswaldo Cabrera and Oswald Peraza, plus outfielder Estevan Florial to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre and reassigning them to minor league camp. Additionally, they reassigned outfielders Michael Beltre and Blake Perkins, plus catcher Rodolfo Durán to minor league camp.

Both Cabrera and Peraza should start the season in the minor leagues but will likely force their way to the MLB team’s plans at some point. (Peraza in particular is a top prospect who could eventually make a splash.) Florial, meanwhile, is entering a make-or-break season.