Coming into spring training, there were a lot of question marks surrounding the Yankees. Will Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann have bounce-back years? Can Alex Rodriguez still play? Who will be the closer? Now that spring training is coming to a close, we can answer some of those questions. Let's take a look at some of the things we've learned from spring training so far.
1. Alex Rodriguez can still play baseball
After a serving a season-long suspension, A-Rod was finally cleared for baseball activities and the spotlight has been on him all offseason as the media speculated about his ability to play the game. Rodriguez even voiced his own concerns early on, saying he wasn't sure what to expect until he faced live pitching. While pitchers aren't necessarily throwing their hardest (or best) during spring training, A-Rod has certainly shown that he can still hit the ball. In his first spring training since 2012, he's hitting .290/.389/.516 with a double, two home runs, five walks and six strikeouts in 31 at-bats. The Yankees have to be pleased with what they've seen from him considering that he hadn't played in a year, is nearly 40-years-old, and has struggled mightily with hip injuries over the past few years. Since Rodriguez will be the Yankees full-time DH, it's entirely possible that he'll be able to stay healthy and actually produce in the lineup.
2. Some of the minor leaguers need to work on their defense
Although he played right field throughout college, and his first year in the majors, Rob Refsnyder made the switch to second base in 2013. Since then, we've heard that his defense needs work, and that is true based on what we've seen thus far in spring training. Refsnyder's been charged with 4 errors in 61 innings, bringing his fielding percentage to .892. Before Stephen Drew was signed, Refsnyder and Jose Pirela were the frontrunners for the second base job. Before sustaining a concussion the other day, Pirela also showed that his defense leaves something to be desired, as he was charged with 3 errors in 70 innings of work at various positions. Despite their defensive shortcomings, both have hit really well over spring training (.321/.406/.500 for Refsnyder and .370/.433/.630 for Pirela), so hopefully both get chances with the team later on in the year.
3. You can never have enough starting pitchers
Okay, we already knew this one, but spring training has proven this to be true yet again. When Chris Capuano was signed over the offseason, there was no guarantee that he would be the fifth starter, or that he would even pitch well, but his leg injury removed him from the competition. Esmil Rogers, Bryan Mitchell and Chase Whitley have been getting looks, but it appears that the fifth spot in the rotation is Adam Warren's to lose. Assuming that Warren takes the spot, and knowing that Ivan Nova should be back in June, the team is still without many decent backup starter options. Rogers' current 2.92 ERA would look a lot worse if he hadn't made an error before allowing several runs to score the other day. It is a small sample size, but Mitchell hasn't looked particularly sharp. Interestingly, Whitley has only given up one earned run through 11 IP, so if any of these other guys make the bullpen, it should be him. If everyone in the rotation stays healthy, then the Yankees should be fine with Warren in there, but that's a big if and it assumes that CC Sabathia will find his stuff and be effective.
What else have we learned about the team based on spring training?