TAMPA, Fla. -- The interstate highways that crisscross the Sunshine State have served as Aaron Boone's 70 mph spring sanctum, with the rookie manager alternating between peering out of a bus window and considering the possibilities of the Yankees' 25-man roster.That squad appeared to be set on Saturday, when the
TAMPA, Fla. -- The interstate highways that crisscross the Sunshine State have served as Aaron Boone's 70 mph spring sanctum, with the rookie manager alternating between peering out of a bus window and considering the possibilities of the Yankees' 25-man roster.
That squad appeared to be set on Saturday, when the club decided to carry Jonathan Holder as an eighth reliever, optioning Domingo German to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. A late-breaking right ankle injury to first baseman Greg Bird could alter plans, but otherwise, Boone is ready to sign off.
"I've been asked a lot over the last few days, 'Are you ready to get out of here? Are you ready to break camp?'" Boone said. "My answer has been that there is a lot to do in these last days, but now it feels like it's time to go. We'll obviously hold our breath on Greg and hope for good news there, but ... it's about go time. I think we're ready for it."
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Here is the team that Boone is planning on bringing into action for the March 29 opener against the Blue Jays in Toronto:
Catcher (2):Gary Sanchez will serve as the starting catcher, coming off a season in which he batted .278/.345/.531 while leading all Major League backstops in runs (79), homers (33), RBIs (90) and slugging percentage (.531). Austin Romine returns as Sanchez's backup, having batted .218 while making 58 starts.
First base (1): Bird, who will miss six to eight weeks because of right ankle surgery, continues to be envisioned as the starting first baseman. He was limited to 48 regular-season games by a right ankle injury last season, batting .190 with nine homers and 28 RBIs. The Yankees view Neil Walker as a serviceable backup.
Second base (2): Boone has discussed the possibility of Tyler Wade and Walker splitting time at second base. Wade impressed this spring after hitting .155 in 30 big league games last season. A late arrival in camp, Walker batted .265/.362/.439 with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 111 games for the Mets and Brewers.
Third base (1): Acquired from the D-backs on Feb. 20, Brandon Drury is set for a full-time look at third base. Drury batted .267/.317/.447 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs in 135 games for Arizona last year, and the Yankees believe that the 25-year-old has yet to reach his potential.
Shortstop (1): Now referred to as "the captain of the infield" by Boone, Didi Gregorius established career highs in runs (73), homers (25) and RBIs (87) last year. Breaking Derek Jeter's 1999 club record for homers by a shortstop, Gregorius led the Yankees with 44 multihit games despite missing the first month of the season.
Utility (1):Ronald Torreyes' defensive versatility and knack for barreling baseballs have earned a place on the bench. Torreyes made starts at three infield positions last year while hitting .338 off left-handed pitching. The Yankees have even experimented with Torreyes behind the plate, where he gives a low "Bob Boone target," according to his new skipper.
Outfield (4):Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton give the Yankees one of the best outfields in baseball. Gardner is expected to draw the majority of starts in left field and Hicks will man center field, so attention will be focused on how Boone balances Judge and Stanton in right field.
The duo combined for 111 homers last season, and Stanton has been a willing participant in a spring left-field experiment, where he could play infrequently against tough lefties. More likely, Judge and Stanton will rotate between right field and designated hitter, with Sanchez taking an occasional turn at DH.
Starting pitchers (5): The Yankees feature the same rotation that brought them within one victory of the World Series last year. Luis Severino was named the Opening Day starter after going 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in his first full season, finishing third in the American League Cy Young Award voting. He will be followed by Masahiro Tanaka, Carsten Sabathia, Sonny Gray and Jordan Montgomery.
Bullpen (8): Boone has elected to begin with eight relievers and a three-man bench, noting that the club will play five straight games to open the season. Holder won a bullpen spot to join an elite crew that will feature Dellin Betances, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Player Page for David Robertson, Chasen Shreve and Adam Warren teaming to deliver the ball to closer Albertin Chapman.
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.