Yanks sign INF Kozma to big league contract

Club also places Gregorius on 10-day DL, Austin on 60-day DL as 25-man finalized

April 2nd, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees finalized their 25-man Opening Day roster on Sunday morning, signing infielder Pete Kozma to a Major League contract while placing infielder Didi Gregorius and outfielder on the disabled list.

Gregorius is listed on the 10-day disabled list (retroactive to March 30) with a right shoulder strain and is not expected to rejoin the big league club until May. Austin was sent to the 60-day DL with a fractured left ankle, a move that made room for Kozma on the active roster.

Kozma was invited to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee, batting .220 with two doubles and three RBIs in Grapefruit League play. He will back up as the Yanks' starting shortstop while Gregorius is out, while also likely seeing time at second and third base.

"We have Torreyes and Kozma, and I just want them to be themselves," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Don't go out and try to be Didi, just go out and try to be yourself. I think those two guys really understand that pretty well. I haven't seen them try to do too much at any point."

The 28-year-old Kozma last played in the Major Leagues in 2015, when he hit .152 with two RBIs in 76 games for the Cardinals.

"That's why we're all here in Spring Training, to make the team," Kozma said. "I feel like if I can play short, I can play just about anywhere."

Girardi said that Gregorius is close to resuming a throwing program, and he will remain behind in Florida when the team goes north.

Gregorius sustained the injury while completing a double play in a March 18 exhibition game with the Netherlands' World Baseball Classic team. At the time, the Yankees said that a full recovery could take six weeks.

"You're missing a very good shortstop with a strong arm that hit 20-plus homers that we feel is growing as an offensive player," Girardi said. "You're going to miss that."