The Yankees continued their spring work today, with Opening Day now just a week and a half away. There was little urgency this afternoon, with a patchwork squad making its way to face the Tigers on the road. Even so, the Yankees dispatched Detroit for their second consecutive exhibition win.
The Yankees sent very few starters to Lakeland, but they did send Gleyber Torres. The second baseman came out firing, slamming the first pitch of the game from Eduardo Rodríguez for a home run out to right-center. None of it matters all that much, but Torres has swung the bat well in spring, notably spraying a number of hard-hit balls to the opposite field. He’s provided a glimmer of hope for those looking for reason to be excited about his 2022 season.
1st pitch pop @TorresGleyber pic.twitter.com/OHMMRzIhL2— New York Yankees (@Yankees) March 28, 2022
Also inspiring cautious optimism was starter Deivi García. The righty entered camp with little buzz attached to his name, having come off a disastrous season that saw him run a 6.85 ERA in the minors. García tossed two scoreless in his first spring outing, and he managed three innings of one-run ball today, with his only mistake coming on a hanging breaking pitch that Dustin Garneu cashed in for a game-tying solo homer in the third.
Otherwise, García looked solid, and most encouragingly, his fastball continued to show newfound zip. García was throwing a consistent 95 mph, even touching 97 mph on a couple occasions, having averaged about 92 mph on his fastball in 2021. At just 22 years old, García still has a number of paths back toward big league effectiveness. Adding three ticks to his heater would certainly help him down one of those paths.
Once García departed, Aaron Boone went straight to the one big-name pitcher the club brought on the trip, Aroldis Chapman. The closer navigated a nominally perfect fourth inning, but to the eye, he didn’t look especially sharp. Chapman missed the zone with half of his pitches, and generated a couple of swinging strikes on hanging sliders. His velocity vacillated within a wide band, from 93 mph all the way up to 99. The lefty is certainly not expected to be locked in right now, and the Yankees will hope to see him sharpen slowly over the next week or two.
From there, the Yankees’ mash unit grabbed the lead. Tim Locastro was hit by a pitch, Phillip Evans singled, and Ronald Guzman drove both home with a double. Max McDowell followed with a single, and Guzman scored next on a passed ball to give the Yankees a 4-1 advantage.
The Yankees extended the lead in the sixth. Facing former farmhand Rony Garcia, Miguel Andujar led off with a walk (a rare sight!). A Locastro double and an HBP by Evans loaded the bases, and Guzman drove home two with a single. Two batters later, 2021 fourth-round pick Cooper Bowman opened up the game with a three-run homer to put the Yankees up 9-1.
Luis Gil relieved Chapman on the mound, and the top prospect turned in a quality showing. Gil shut out Detroit across three innings, allowing just one hit and one walk against four strikeouts. The right-hander has yet to allow a run through eight innings and three spring outings, reminiscent of his historic streak to start his big league career last summer.
Guzman added an RBI single in the eighth, though the Tigers tightened things up in the bottom half. Riley Greene greeted reliever Shawn Semple with a solo homer, and Victor Reyes smashed a three-run homer four batters later to cut New York’s lead to 10-5. The Yankees got one back on an RBI single from Armando Alvarez, and the Tigers tacked on two more in ninth, but their rally fell short, and the game ended with a score of 11-7.
The Yankees will keep tuning up tomorrow, as the return home for a date with the Phillies. They’ll get a look at Aaron Nola, and counter with Clarke Schmidt. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 pm EST, and will be televised on YES.