Yankees Work towards Better Season at Spring Training

Photo courtesy of Groupe Canam, Wikimedia Commons

Pitchers and catchers are reporting to spring training this week, and there are a lot of questions surrounding the New York Yankees.

The Yankees are coming off of their worst season since 1992. They finished 84-78 last year, and had tons of trouble at the plate. The team’s batting average ranked 20th in the league (.245). They also ranked 20th in runs (633) and 23rd in on-base percentage (.307).

If healthy, the Yankees have arguably the best rotation in the American League East. Masahiro Tanaka went 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and 133 strikeouts before going down with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in July. After missing over two months, he finished the year 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA and 141 strikeouts.

According to media reports, pitching coach Larry Rothschild said Tanaka has “felt good.” The Yankees are hoping Tanaka will not have to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss extended time.

Rothschild said he is going to be careful with 34-year-old CC Sabathia.

“He hasn’t pitched much the last two years, so you’ve got to watch his arm, too,” Rothschild told the Associated Press.  “The knee, you’ve got to be aware of. There’s a lot that we’ve just got to pay attention to.”

Ramapo students said that staying healthy will be key for the Yankees’ pitching rotation this season.

“If Tanaka is healthy, he is a 20-win starter,” said sophomore George Hunkele. “I think CC can be a solid two or three starter if he doesn’t get hurt again.”

Michael Pineda went 5-5 with a stunning 1.89 ERA in an injury-plagued season that forced him to start only 13 games.

Ivan Nova will also be returning from Tommy John surgery sometime between May and June.

To fill the hole at shortstop left by Derek Jeter’s retirement, the Yankees acquired Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team trade on Dec. 5.

“[The Yankees] are losing a great leader, a tremendous shortstop and the face of the franchise [in Derek Jeter],” said Hunkele. “Didi is a solid acquisition. He won’t replace Derek, but he’s going to do his job as best as he can.”

However, the Yankees lost Martin Prado and Ichiro Suzuki to the Marlins, leaving a hole at second base. Newly resigned Stephen Drew and minor leaguers Rob Refsnyder and José Pirela are all candidates for the position.

The Yankees also signed reliever Andrew Miller to a four-year contract, and it is assumed All-Star reliever Dellin Betances will be the new closer after David Robertson signed with the White Sox.

They also resigned third baseman Chase Headley to a four-year deal, meaning Rodriguez will most likely designated hitter regarding question marks about his health and playing time.

“I think they should just play A-Rod. He makes too much money not to play,” said Hunkele. “If he can still field well, I don’t see why he wouldn’t play third.”

The Yankees met up with Rodriguez where he apologized to owner Hal Steinbrenner and team executives for his suspension for performance-enhancing drug use and attempting to defend himself after lying about taking PEDs. Rodriguez was suspended all of last season for his role in the Biogenesis case.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield is projecting a 78-win season from the Yankees, which will mark the first time the Yankees would finish under .500 since 1992.  They start the 2015 season against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 6.