It’s the fourth day of Grapefruit League action for the Yankees, as a portion of the Bronx Bombers rides the bus from Tampa to Orlando to take on the division rival Rays. For those generally familiar with spring training venues, this may raise some eyebrows, as the Rays had been hosted in Port Charlotte from 2009-22, but Hurricane Ian sadly wreaked havoc on the area late last year.
So the Rays had to move away from Port Charlotte for 2023, instead splitting spring between the familiar Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg and ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. The latter was the Braves’ primary spring training ballpark as recently as 2019 and also actually hosted a handful of Rays regular season games between 2007-08.
Anyway, onto the exhibition itself. Only three expected regulars made the voyage to Orlando, but we’ll at least see Gleyber Torres and Oswald Peraza starting up the middle in what could be a preview of the Opening Day alignment at second base and shortstop, respectively. They flashed potential as a combo last October, so hopefully we’ll see more of that in 2023.
The third regular is catcher Jose Trevino, who will hit cleanup behind non-roster invitee Rafael Ortega. Prospects to keep an eye on include Andres Chaparro at first base and Everson Pereira in right field. There’s always the potential for more interesting prospects too, as they often travel to spring road games to provide bench support with the more familiar players staying back in Tampa. Even prospects who aren’t NRIs are eligible, such as the last two first-rounders, Trey Sweeney and Spencer Jones.
Taking the mound for New York will be 26-year-old right-hander Sean Boyle, one of their 2018 draft picks; he established himself as a rotation regular for Triple-A Scranton by the end of 2022 after starting off in Double-A. In nine games (47.1 innings), he pitched to a 3.61 ERA, 5.45 FIP, and 4.45 xFIP. Triple-A batters took him deep 10 times in that limited sample, so keep an eye out for the long ball, though he at least will keep the walks down.
The Rays will counter with a legitimate MLB arm, southpaw Jeffrey Springs. The 30-year-old once looked doomed to irrelevance after underwhelming from 2018-20 in Texas and Boston, but as the Rays are wont to do, they plucked him up for essentially nothing and after a solid year out of the ‘pen in 2021, he excelled in the rotation in 2022 with a 2.46 ERA and 3.04 FIP in 135.1 innings. Now, he has a four-year extension to his name. Springs will be a good challenge for the youngsters in the Yankees’ lineup today.
This is one of those dumb untelevised spring contests, which is still somehow possible in the year 2023. Once upon a time, it was listed on the Bally Sports Sun schedule, but, well, it’s not anymore (I have my suspicions as to why). So if you want to follow along, you’ll have to at least subscribe to MLB.com Audio.
Location: ESPN Wide World of Sports — Orlando, FL
First pitch: 1:05 pm ET
TV broadcast: None
Radio broadcast: MLB.com
Online stream: None