The Yankees won their final spring training game, 5-1 over the Braves, to finish the exhibition season 18-13-1. The regular season begins Thursday, when the games count.
The Yanks had a starting lineup tonight that looked like the regular season lineup vs. a righty pitcher. Gardner/Judge/Stanton/Didi/Sanchez/Hicks/Walker/Drury and Wade. Against a lefty starter, it may be different, esp. with Walker sliding over from first to second, and Tyler Austin playing first. Ronald Torreyes is also in the mix there for 2B.
As for the game, it showed everything that we want to see from the Yanks all season long. A couple of homers for an early lead, good starting pitching, good defense, and a killer bullpen.
With two outs in the first, Stanton walked and Didi homered.
Gary Sanchez threw out a runner trying to steal in the bottom of the first.
In the third, with one out, Judge walked and Stanton hit a 2-run HR.
The Braves got their only run in the fourth, but not before Didi Gregorius made a great defensive play.
Nice to see Tyler Wade use his speed by beating out a bunt for a hit in the seventh, and he went to second on an error on the play.
In the eighth, with one out, Trey Amburgey reached on an error, went to second on a WP and scored on a Shane Robinson two-out double. 5-1.
Meanwhile, Sonny Gray only gave up 1 run in 5 IP and the bullpen was lights out.
Didi and Stanton each hit 2-run HRs.
Gray 5 IP, 1 R, 3 H, 0 W, 7 K.
Betances (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 3 K.
Robertson (H) 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 0 K.
Holder 1 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 W, 1 K.
Heller 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 W, 1 K.
Chapman 2/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 2 K.
A combined four-hitter with 14 K.
Now for the bad news. Greg Bird needs surgery on that same ankle again, this time for a broken bone spur. He’ll be out 6-8 weeks. With rehab time, we are looking for him to return some time in June. For now, Tyler Austin has been recalled to take his place.
Besides Austin, options are Billy McKinney, and Mike Ford, both slated for AAA. Ryan McBroom is AA bound. As for now, Austin looks to platoon with Walker at 1B, Walker sliding to second against a lefty but playing 1B against a righty with Tyler Wade at 2B. You wonder if the Yanks will reach out to Adam Lind again, but you wonder what Lind would cost and if it would push them over the cap. Also, there is Miguel Andujar, who is AAA bound but who will be spending 80% of his time at 3B and 20% at 1B.
The biggest hurt to this is that most of the Yanks’ power is righty and with that short porch, you want lefty pop and the biggest lefty pop is Didi, what with Bird out. Didi, Gardner and switch hitters Walker and Hicks hit lefty, as is Ellsbury, but none are lefty hitters of 30 or more HR pop (except for one freak year Ellsbury had a few years back). So you do wonder if they go back to Lind…
As for Bird, a tough break but now you wonder if he is Nick Johnson 2.0—all that talent but can’t stay healthy. If that is the case, you also have to wonder how patient the Yanks will be with him. He lost all of 2016, most of 2017 and now will miss the first two months of 2018. If this continues, the Yanks will be forced to move on from him.
Update: Mark Reynolds, who was briefly with the Yanks a few years ago, is also a free agent, but is a righty hitter, unlike Lind.