After a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees are boarding a bus and taking a 50 minute drive to Bradenton, where they’ll face the Pittsburgh Pirates in a Spring Training match-up. Esmil Rogers is slated to start for the Yankees and Francisco Liriano takes the hill for the Pirates. The game is on the radio today, but you can come back later for a game recap and me pointing out the good and the bad from the game.
Since we have about four hours until first pitch, here are some random thoughts going into this afternoon’s matinee.
— As we all know, Esmil Rogers is taking the hill for the Yankees. Rogers was a mid-season acquisition last year but saw most of his work from the Yankees bullpen; he went 2-0 with a 4.68 ERA and 1.280 WHIP in 18 games with the Bronx Bombers after going 0-0 with a 6.97 ERA and a 1.694 WHIP in 16 games with the Toronto Blue Jays. Brian Cashman told Rogers to prepare for the Spring as a starter, and Rogers pitched as a starter in Winter Ball over the offseason. I have to say, I was extremely surprised the Yankees decided to avoid arbitration with Rogers over David Huff, simply because Huff had slightly better numbers than Rogers (Huff: 3-1, 1.85 ERA, 1.308 WHIP in 30 games). Rogers personally doesn’t care how he makes the roster, but I don’t envision him as a starter. I see him more as a bullpen guy, should he pitch well this Spring.
— Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are both making the trip to Bradenton. I sometimes question if the veterans all draw straws before camp and whoever gets the shortest straw has to go on road trips. It’s just odd Gardner and Ellsbury are the only starters making the road trips this early in Spring Training, although Gardner always goes on the Spring Training road trips every year.
Once again, Ellsbury and Gardner are the 1-2 punch in the lineup this afternoon, mostly because Joe Girardi tinkered with it during the instrasquad game and the first game of the Spring. Ellsbury and Gardner both had great years last season, and the idea of having them as the 1-2 punch last year seemed ideal. The only person getting in their way? The retiring shortstop Derek Jeter. Now with Jeter retired, the Yankees are free to use Gardner and Ellsbury at the top of the order, and Gardner thinks the 1-2 combination of him and Ellsbury could be a threat to other teams.
“I think we can do some damage as long as we both stay healthy and do our jobs,” Gardner said to reporters following the 5-5 tie against the Phillies on Tuesday. “Get on base and take some attention from the hitter and (put it) on us from the pitcher and the catcher; get over into scoring position and give those guys in the middle of the lineup some RBI opportunities.”
“I think it’ll be fun,” Ellsbury added. “Having speed at the top of the lineup, you can do a lot of different things. Score a lot of different ways.”
— John Ryan Murphy is getting the start behind the plate and both Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela are in the lineup. Pirela is the third basemen in today’s contest and Refsnyder is the second basemen. Also Cito Culver, who made the amazing Derek Jeter type play in yesterday’s contest, is the starting shortstop in today’s game. Maybe we get another highlight play today?
Source : http://bronxbaseballdaily.com/2015/03/yankees-head-to-bradenton-to-take-on-pittsburgh-pirates/