FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A week from Thursday, the Yankees open the season in Toronto. With that in mind, it seems the appropriate time to look, statistically, at what kind of spring manager Aaron Boone's regulars have had.Infield
There are a new third baseman and second baseman, a healthy Greg
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A week from Thursday, the Yankees open the season in Toronto. With that in mind, it seems the appropriate time to look, statistically, at what kind of spring manager Aaron Boone's regulars have had.
There are a new third baseman and second baseman, a healthy Greg Bird at first and the emerging star, Didi Gregorius, at shortstop. The new guy at the hot corner is Brandon Drury, acquired Feb. 20 from the D-backs. He has hit .244 in 16 games with one homer. He wasn't picked up for his bat, though -- Drury could be a placeholder until Miguel Andujar, the Yanks' No. 4 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, is ready. The new second baseman is Neil Walker, signed on March 12 to a one-year contract. He has gone 3-for-8 over four spring games. Tyler Wade, who has a legitimate chance of starting Opening Day at second, has impressed this spring, batting .286. Bird has hit just .167 with one home run, and Gregorius has hit .267 with three homers.
Left fielder Brett Gardner has struggled much of the spring, but he did have two hits Wednesday, snapping a 2-for-19 slump. Boone's not worried about this veteran, and the manager has said Gardner will be in left for the opener in Toronto. Center fielder Aaron Hicks has hit .200 with a homer and a pair of RBIs in 16 Grapefruit League games. Right fielder Aaron Judge started slowly, but he has been sharp lately. He's beginning to get zeroed in, and he had a two-homer game against the Orioles on Wednesday.
Stanton will likely start the season DHing. He hasn't gotten hot yet, hitting .209 with one spring homer. When he does, home runs pile up prodigiously.
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Gary Sanchez has been one of the most consistent Yankees in Grapefruit League play. He has hit four home runs and knocked in 10.
Luis Severino will be the Opening Day starter, and he will make his final tuneup Saturday vs. the Braves in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He's pitched in two Grapefruit League games, notching a 3.24 ERA over 8 1/3 innings. Masahiro Tanaka, Carsten Sabathia and Sonny Gray will follow him against the Blue Jays. The fifth starter will be Jordan Montgomery, who struck out two and allowed one run over six innings in Thursday's 2-1 win over the Twins.
Stanton said that he knows he will be constantly in the spotlight now that he's a Yankee.
"The good times will be magnified, and so will the bad," he said. "The fans expect a lot. I expect a lot too. ... You've got to own up to your performance, to what you say, what you didn't say. That's how it should be. I like it."
The Yankees played a night game Wednesday, which meant that the team that traveled to Fort Myers on Thursday looked more like a Minor League hybrid than the New York version. Among the 28 players who made the 21/2-hour bus ride were 15 not even on the club's 40-man roster. Jacoby Ellsbury, who will start the season on the disabled list, made the trek as well.
Ellsbury started and played four innings in center field. He went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.
"It was good to play," Ellsbury said. "My body feels good, and I was in a good zone today."
Tanaka will make his final Grapefruit League start Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Red Sox at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Boston's starter will be Christopher Johnson. Watch the game on MLB.TV.
Bob Rathgeber is a contributor to MLB.com and covered the Yankees on Thursday.