Three stories to watch out of Yankees' spring training
As the Yankees begin play in Tampa, several key situations heading into the season will be decided in the coming weeks. In an offseason which did not see Manny Machado or Bryce Harper land in the Big Apple, the Yankees did, however, introduce several new faces, with former All-Stars James Paxton, Troy Tulowitzki, and DJ LeMahieu leading the pack. While the focus of the season is to avenge Boston’s World Series win and take home a 28th chip of their own, here are some things to keep an eye on out of camp before baseball returns to the Bronx.
|Photo Credit: SNY|
It’s no secret that Clint Frazier is entering the spring with a vengeance. Following a season marred by injuries and demotions, Frazier has made it abundantly clear that he is looking to overthrow 11-year veteran Brett Gardner from left field. Although it may seem like ages ago, El Rojo is less than two years removed from a summer eruption during which he came up clutch for the Yanks on multiple occasions, including a walk-off shot to put New York over Milwaukee. Gardner, now entering his age-35 season, was surprisingly ineffective for the bulk of 2018, posting career lows in average, on-base percentage and stolen bases, aside from his abbreviated rookie campaign. Frazier, on the other hand, slashed .311/.389/.574 with 10 homers over 190 Triple-A at-bats. The past three seasons have seen Baby Bombers become fixtures at five spots on the diamond, and we’ve already seen what Clint is capable of when on the field. Judging by the way the rest of the spring plays out, a sixth takeover could be not so far off.
|Photo Credit: NorthJersey.com|
Will Bird reclaim his inheritance or will Voit keep on rolling?
Moving from one positional battle to another, let’s take a look at the impending duel on the right side of the infield. Bird burst onto the scene in 2015, taking over for Mark Teixeira, who had broken his leg. In 46 games that year, he hit for an .871 OPS with 11 home runs in just 157 at-bats. Since then, however, Bird has taken after his predecessor in the form of injuries - he’s coming off his third consecutive season which everybody would like to forget. A luxury which the Bombers only had this past season, an obscure outsider took advantage of Bird’s troubles: Luke Voit. Acquired in a classic Brian Cashman trade that sent Chasen Shreve to St. Louis, Voit carried the Yankees through the final two months of the season, posting absolutely absurd numbers (14 home runs, 33 RBI, .333 average, 1.095 OPS over 132 at-bats) while winning the hearts of Yankee fans everywhere. With LeMahieu serving as the backup first baseman (per Aaron Boone), there seems to be room for just one of the two on the Opening Day roster. Although his 2018 numbers are obviously unsustainable, Voit will have the chance to prove that he isn’t a one-season wonder. Meanwhile, Bird’s future with the organization may begin to come into question with a poor showing. The battle should be intense - a win-win situation for Boone and the Yankees.
|Photo Credit: Elite Sports NY|
Danny Farquhar’s road to recovery
Not only is this a key storyline for Yankee fans, but it’s one the rest of the baseball world will be watching as well. On April 20, during his time with the White Sox, Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage and ruptured aneurysm in the dugout following a relief outing. Let alone his career, Danny’s life was in danger - he remained hospitalized for two weeks, undergoing multiple surgeries. Nearly nine months to the day from the near-fatal injury, Farquhar inked a minor-league pact with the Yanks. Now, from a purely baseball standpoint: Farquhar came to camp not in search of sympathy, but to battle for an available spot in a star-studded Yankee bullpen. His track record shows that to be very plausible - he carries a career 3.93 ERA accompanied by 309 strikeouts and a 3.60 FIP. Competing with the likes of Tommy Kahnle, Stephen Tarpley and others, it’ll be interesting to see if Farquhar can put the finishing touch on one of the better comeback stories in recent memory.
|Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Times|
Article by: Christian DeMoro