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Inbox: Who will start season at SS for Yanks?

Beat reporter Bryan Hoch answers fans' questions
March 28, 2017

With the injury to Didi Gregorius, what do you see the Yankees doing at shortstop? And if they go with Tyler Wade at short and he plays well, is there any chance he will take the third-base job when Didi returns? -- Evan P., via e-mailThe Yankees seem to be

With the injury to Didi Gregorius, what do you see the Yankees doing at shortstop? And if they go with Tyler Wade at short and he plays well, is there any chance he will take the third-base job when Didi returns?
-- Evan P., via e-mail

The Yankees seem to be confident that they can patch the hole from within, and while that might just be posturing, no trade appears imminent. The Yanks eliminated one candidate after Sunday's game, reassigning Ruben Tejada to Minor League camp, and eliminated another, Wade, who was reassigned after Tuesday night's game. Joe Girardi strongly indicated that the shortstop job will go to Ronald Torreyes in the interim.
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Wade is the next man up, as he is in line to be the starting shortstop at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. It would be surprising if general manager Brian Cashman wasn't gauging the market, but Wade is on the way -- perhaps as soon as this year. The Yankees have been grooming him to take on a Brock Holt and Benjamin Zobrist type of super utility role.
As for replacing Chase Headley at third base, I don't see it, especially since Headley is due $13 million both this year and next. Wade's focus has been mostly at shortstop, second base and the outfield, and though he has taken some ground balls at third, the Yanks aren't really looking at him to be an everyday starter at the hot corner.
After Albertin Chapman, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances, who do you think makes the Opening Day roster in the 'pen?
-- David F., Brooklyn, N.Y.

That'll probably be the last thing that gets ironed out before the Yankees leave for Friday's exhibition in Atlanta. Tommy Layne is a lock, and Adam Warren will begin the year in a relief role. The Yanks could go a lot of ways with the final spots, but remember, they can carry four starters and eight relievers to start the season. I'll go with Chad Green, Ben Heller and Jonathan Holder, with Chasen Shreve beginning the year at Triple-A.
Who do you think the Yankees' No. 4 and No. 5 starters will be?
-- Brian K., New York

I hinted at this in the above answer, but my working thought has been that Bryan Mitchell would be the No. 4 starter. The Yankees technically don't need a fifth starter until April 16, because there are three off-days in the first 10 days, so you could have both Jordan Montgomery and Luis Severino start the year in Triple-A and announce the winner of the ffth spot later.

The organization would have loved to see Severino step up and dominate this spring, but it didn't really happen on a consistent basis. His final spring outing on Wednesday might make the difference. Girardi has been very intrigued by Montgomery's stuff and downhill plane, and having a second lefty in the rotation wouldn't be a bad thing. I'll wager he gets a look, despite not being on the 40-man roster.
If Ernesto Frieri doesn't make the team, any chance he would go to the Minors like Jonathon Niese might?
-- Alan L., Connecticut

Yes. Frieri said that no matter what happens, he's with the Yankees, and he'll do whatever they ask of him. After sitting out all of last season, he's just happy to have a chance. Frieri said he got his deception back, and hitters do seem to have difficulty picking him up, as evidenced by his seven strikeouts in three innings. Niese returned on a Minor League contract Tuesday; the Yanks don't feel like his arm strength was quite there this spring, but they believe it will be after another month or so.  
Does it help or hurt the youth movement that Girardi is managing with only one year left on his contract?
-- Matt B., Connecticut

I don't sense that it will be an issue. Girardi's job is to try to win every game possible with the 25-man roster he has, and that hasn't really changed, even with the influx of young talent. While most of his Yankees teams have been veteran-heavy, he did win the National League Manager of the Year Award in 2006 with a young Marlins team, so he can handle an atmosphere with more teaching.
It helps that most of the young players have held their own -- Gary Sanchez obviously is a star, but Greg Bird clearly outplayed Chris Carter, and Aaron Judge has made it a tough call with Aaron Hicks. Gleyber Torres was probably the most impressive player in camp, but there was no way he would play in Yankee Stadium before playing one inning in a Double-A game, and he knew it.

Still, it was telling that the coaching staff all voted for Torres to go north, and Cashman had to be the "bad guy" in saying no. It's clear Torres' time will come before long, and the organization is committed to what they started at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline. It should be refreshing for the fan base to see the Yanks giving so many opportunities to players with more tomorrows than yesterdays.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.