Yanks targeting veteran Lee for first-base job
Cashman also reaches out to Rolen, jokingly suggests Chipper would be good fit
TAMPA, Fla. -- No name is off limits as Brian Cashman casts his wide net for potential lineup help. The Yankees' general manager confirmed on Monday that he has reached out to veterans Derrek Lee and Scott Rolen to gauge their interest on playing this season.
Saying that the calls show how "creative we would like to be" in filling the vacancy created by Mark Teixeira's injury, Cashman added that he would also love to fit Chipper Jones for pinstripes, calling the retired Braves icon's demeanor and skill set a "Yankee-type" match.
"Don't you think Chipper would be a perfect fit? Larry?" Cashman said. "I'd take Larry in a heartbeat. I think everybody would. I already know the answer, but I might as well throw it out there anyway."
During a dugout conversation with reporters, Cashman said that he could not find the contact information for Jones' agent and asked for the idea of Chipper as a Yankee to be floated on Twitter. Cashman did not have to wait very long for a response.
"Enough with the rumors!" Jones tweeted on Monday. "While I am flattered about the speculation of being enticed out of retirement, I'm happy with life as a bad golfer!"
Enough with the rumors! While I am flattered about the speculation of being enticed out of retirement, I'm happy with life as a bad golfer!- Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) March 11, 2013
Jones' agent, B.B. Abbott, told MLB.com that Jones had been "very flattered" by Cashman's comments and has the "utmost respect for the Yankee organization." Ultimately, Abbott said, Jones' "legacy is and always will be with the Braves."
The incident outlined just how caught off guard the Yankees were by the dual injuries to Teixeira and Curtis Granderson this spring, deleting two huge power threats from the lineup for at least the first month of the regular season.
Informed of Cashman's comments, Yankees captain Derek Jeter wondered aloud if the GM planned to find a few other notable names in his rolodex.
"He call Mike Schmidt, too? Call everybody," Jeter cracked. "We have guys here. We'll play with who's here. ... I think Chipper is at home right now. Unless we've got a golf team, I don't think there's a reason to call him up."
So the Yankees have no realistic expectations of luring Jones away from the links, and Cashman added that his impression is that Rolen has chosen not to play this season. Rolen hit .245 with eight homers and 39 RBIs last season with Cincinnati.
"I had a conversation, but nothing to report," Cashman said. "I'm just exploring what options are out there and at what cost. ... I think he chose not to play. I think he had a legitimate offer from the Reds and he chose not to play, is my understanding."
The chances of signing the 37-year-old Lee seem to have gained some traction. A three-time Gold Glove Award winner who last played in 2011 with the Pirates, Lee is said to have been "intrigued" by the opportunity with the Yankees created by Teixeira's strained forearm.
"I reached out to him. I expressed an interest," Cashman said. "He's the type of player that is Yankee-like in terms of capabilities when he was playing and makeup for the clubhouse and stuff like that. I just planted the seed, if you have an interest in thinking of playing, let me know. That was it."
Cashman said that he received a positive endorsement of Lee from Jim Hendry, the former Cubs general manager and Cashman's current assistant, and said that his understanding is that Lee could be in physical condition to play quickly.
"If he still was game, I bet you he still has game," Cashman said. "I think he's intrigued and probably has his mind thinking right now. Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
The Yankees have been entertaining the idea of playing Dan Johnson or Juan Rivera at first base in Teixeira's absence.
They have also given thought to moving Kevin Youkilis across the infield to first base if they can find a palatable option at third base; Eduardo Nunez, Jayson Nix and Ronnier Mustelier have all been considered.
Mustelier played third base on Monday against the Cardinals, and though he did not have a ball hit at him, Cashman said that his bat is making the Yankees give a closer inspection.
"His bat is making him have a chance," Cashman said. "We'll see what we see the rest of camp with his glove, but he can hit."
So far, however, none of the candidates in camp have given Cashman a reason to stop digging into his phone book for the team's needs.
"We're looking at what we have here," Cashman said. "We're going to look at what's playing outside of here, and we're going to look at -- in a few select cases -- what's not playing at all.
"But that 'What's not playing at all' category, those are unique players, in my opinion. Past that, if you're not playing, there's a reason for it."