Every year, Joe Girardi has a meeting with the press on the first day of spring training. Today was the day that Yankees pitchers and catchers at last reported. One off-season countdown down, one more to go. Understandably, a fair amount of what Girardi said was fluff or cliches, like "I like our team," "This rotation will be great if they're healthy," and "I miss Nixy." However, he did offer some thoughts on other topics:
On the pitching staff
Girardi says they won't go with a 6 man rotation - but expects to interject a 6th starter at a few points in the schedule.— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) February 20, 2015
There's been a rumor going around that the Yankees are considering using six starters over the first couple months of the season, and it's really not a bad one since their top three starters are injury risks and they play something like 30 games in 31 days. Girardi is right to establish that a full-season six-man rotation won't happen though. Expect the first two months to be many of those "few points in the schedule" where they might give Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia an extra day off.
Girardi confirms that there were no issues from Tanaka's bullpen yesterday.— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) February 20, 2015
Girardi said there are no restrictions on Tanaka in terms of throwing.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) February 20, 2015
Masahiro Tanaka said his elbow feels fine and doctors told him after an MRI in October that there is no problem— David Waldstein (@DavidWaldstein) February 20, 2015
Awesome news. We can only hope that this is a harbinger of things to come for Tanaka. We're in almost uncharted waters with his PRP therapy seemingly working, so cross your fingers that his elbow continues to be fine.
Girardi on co-closer possibility: "you could do that, sure. I think you'd like to iron it out." Sounds like he'd lean towards having 1 guy— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) February 20, 2015
The Andrew Miller vs. Dellin Betances closer decision will be one of the storylines in spring training. Using both of them would be far from a bad option though. Maybe Girardi tells one of them each day "You will be the closer today," and that would help them have their roles defined since relievers like to know when in the game they will likely pitch. Flexibility with the back of the bullpen never hurts; being too rigid about it leads to 2003 World Series Jeff Weaver nightmares.
Joe Girardi says it would be unfair to judge A-Rod and predict his production until he gets plenty of at-bats in spring training. #Yankees.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) February 20, 2015
Nothing will be given to ARod. Girardi said ARod must "prove" himself to earn playing time."He's going to have to embrace it," Girardi said— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) February 20, 2015
Girardi on ARod and reliance on steroids: "I don't know what it's like to be on them. So I don't know what it's like to be off them."— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) February 20, 2015
Girardi hits the nail on the head here. How many times in the history of baseball has a near-40-year-old returned to the game after two major hip surgeries and only two active months in the previous two years? (Not to mention that lil' old PED suspension.) Guessing A-Rod's production at this point is a fool's errand, and A-Rod should have to prove that he's worth starting. I imagine he will be the regular DH regardless if he's healthy, but proceed with caution.
Girardi said ARod's apology was way "he was comfortable doing it and we'll deal with it." Added that steroid cloud in baseball "saddens" him— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) February 20, 2015
That's about how I expected Girardi to react to A-Rod's apology. Members of the team have already said that they're over it, and Girardi seems no different. It's in the past.
Girardi says he'll discuss ARod as backup first baseman with Alex as soon as he gets here. Says he wants to do it face to face.— Daniel Barbarisi (@DanBarbarisi) February 20, 2015
The idea of A-Rod as a backup first baseman was floated prior to the Yankees acquiring Garrett Jones to provide Mark Teixeira insurance. It's still certainly a good idea to get A-Rod some reps there since I have no faith in him playing a more challenging defensive position at this point in his career. He should really only be playing third in emergencies. Again, flexibility never hurts either.
On Didi Gregorius
James Smyth nailed my reaction on Twitter:
Didi replacing Jeter: The last qualified Yankee to bat .256/.304/.313 or worse was Rafael Santana in 1988. Sorry to say a low bar to clear.— James Smyth (@JamesSmyth621) February 20, 2015
Didi doesn't have to be prime Derek Jeter. Few shortstops have ever been that good. As long as he plays solid defense and hits about league average for a shortstop, I'll be more than satisfied.
Girardi said he is not God.— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) February 20, 2015
Big, if true.