Notes: Nelson dealing; García stating case

Dietrich, Tauchman, Luetge eyeing roster spots

March 15th, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. -- When Yankees coaches were quizzed this offseason about roster hopefuls who could be 2021 contributors, 's name was repeatedly mentioned. The hard-throwing right-hander has lived up to that forecast thus far in the spring.

Nelson tossed 1 1/3 scoreless innings in Sunday's 5-1 Grapefruit League victory over the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., permitting one hit and striking out two. The 25-year-old has scattered four hits over 6 1/3 scoreless frames this spring, notching six strikeouts without a walk.

"It’s pretty crazy, to be honest with you,” Nelson said. “The first year I got drafted, in 2016, I didn’t have a good Rookie ball season. [In] 2017, I didn’t have that great of a year either. To be at this point, where I am now compared to those two years, it’s just so unreal.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said that he could see Nelson helping the big league team as a starter or a reliever, as the organization is high on his four-pitch mix (fastball, changeup, slider and curveball). Boone said that Nelson could see duty in a multi-inning role, similar to how Jonathan Loaisiga has been utilized. Nelson pitched to a 4.79 ERA in 11 appearances last season, spanning 20 2/3 innings.

“Nick continues to pitch really well for us,” Boone said after Sunday’s game. “I thought he did a good job overall, pounding the strike zone. He shaped some decent breaking balls in there, flashed the changeup, which he always does.”

A fourth-round selection by the Yankees in the 2016 MLB Draft out of Gulf Coast Community College in Panama City, Fla., Sunday was something of a ‘home’ game for Nelson. Nelson’s fiancée, Abi, and their young daughter, Henley, were among the socially distanced crowd at TD Ballpark. They had to watch on television when Nelson made his Major League debut last summer.

“It’s awesome; this is my daughter's second baseball game,” Nelson said. “It's pretty cool with her being in the stands. It’s a cool experience. They're finally getting fans in and getting to see me throw.”

Battle royale
Deivi García’s command was not especially sharp on Sunday, yet the right-hander limited the Blue Jays to an unearned run on one hit over his three innings. García walked two and struck out two as he continues to compete with Domingo Germán for the Yankees’ fifth rotation slot.

“I try to give the best I have every single time I go out,” García said through a translator. “I demand a lot of myself. I try to improve every outing that I go out there. I think if you keep doing that, little by little, you can state your case.”

Clubhouse chatter
Derek Dietrich is competing for a place on the Yankees’ 26-man roster, but you wouldn’t know that by how the veteran infielder/outfielder carries himself. From the earliest days of the spring, Dietrich has seemed to belong within the player group.

“I was talking with Gary Sánchez the other day; we were joking around a little bit,” Dietrich said. “He’s like, ‘I’ve got to get it going. I’ve got to win a job.’ He’s our best catcher. He could have been joking, but that’s the kind of attitude you want. Everyone’s trying to do their absolute best for the team, so that’s what I’ve always focused on in any position.”

No sweat
Mike Tauchman seems to be in the thick of battling non-roster invitee Jay Bruce for a roster spot, though the 30-year-old Tauchman said he is keeping his focus on being ready for an April 1 season opener, having made adjustments to his swing in hopes of better using the whole field.

“I’m just trying to get ready for the season,” Tauchman said. “I think that a really good way to make myself crazy is to worry about that. There’s certain things I’m trying to get done in Spring Training … going first-to-third, going gap-to-gap for balls, being aggressive with leadoffs, trying to see a lot of pitches -- stuff like that is infinitely [more] important than worrying about some competition.”

Spin city
Lucas Luetge has not pitched in the Majors since 2015 with the Mariners, but the Yankees are fascinated by the left-hander’s spin rate. Opposing hitters have been mystified; with a team-leading 11 strikeouts through five innings, Luetge’s performance is demanding consideration for a bullpen spot.

“My spring has gone better than I expected,” Luetge said. “You always want to come in starting off good. I didn’t know it’d be this good with the strikeouts, but I just want to keep it rolling. I’ve been able to throw all my pitches for a strike, and my ball is moving a lot right now.”

Night and day
A week and a half after undergoing surgery to have a pacemaker implanted, Boone said that he continues to notice the improvement in his energy level, especially when riding a stationary bike.

“I’m really thankful and grateful that we were able to identify it and it went as they told me it would,” Boone said. “I was very at peace and comfortable with getting it done, and they told me I would notice a big difference. Until you go through it and experience it, you don’t realize how much of a difference.”

Up next
Domingo Germán will make his third start of the spring on Monday as the Yankees host the Phillies in a 1:05 p.m. ET game at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Germán has struck out seven with no walks over five spring innings. Chase Anderson will start for Philadelphia, and the game can be seen on YES or MLB.TV.