The New York Yankees have had a very uneventful spring training so far, and that is a good thing.
The Yankees had a disastrous spring training in 2013, which really led into a bad season overall. Injuries devoured the team starting in spring training, and they were never able to recover.
By this date last season, Mark Texieira had suffered a major wrist injury that would eventually require surgery and Curtis Granderson had broken his forearm. Also, Derek Jeter was behind schedule trying to return following ankle surgery, and Alex Rodriguez was not even close to returning from hip surgery.
This spring has been more normal for the Yankees. They have suffered no major injuries so far and players recovering from old injuries have been looking good. Jeter has looked solid in the field and running the bases. Teixeira has returned to the lineup and has felt no pain in his wrist. Also, Michael Pineda, who has not thrown a pitch in MLB since 2011, looked very strong in his spring debut.
The main goal for any team in spring training is to remain healthy. It is especially crucial for the Yankees, who have an older team and not a ton of good depth to replace players if they get injured.
Also, the Yankees are using this spring to allow their new acquisitions time to fit in, and they are doing just that. Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury have already started to make impressions on their teammates.
Tanaka has impressed the Yankees with his devastating splitter and the way that he has handled all the attention so far. He has made hitters look uncomfortable and his stuff appears as good as advertised.
Beltran has two home runs so far this spring and has made a big impression on the young players in camp. McCann has gotten off to a hot start at the plate, as he has seven hits in his first 16 at-bats. Ellsbury has only two hits, but has five walks, so he is still seeing the ball well.
The starting pitching staff has also gotten off to a very good start. Hiroki Kuroda hasn’t allowed a run in 4 2/3 innings and CC Sabathia pitched a scoreless two innings in his first spring outing. Ivan Nova was great in his first two outings before being hit hard on Saturday against Houston.
All three starters battling for the 5th spot in the rotation have also been impressive. Yesterday, David Phelps pitched five shutout innings against Tampa and has allowed only two runs in 9 2/3 innings this spring. Adam Warren has also been solid, as he has allowed one run in 4 1/3 spring innings.
However, if Pineda continues to pitch like he did in his first outing it will be his job to lose. His fastball ranged between 90-93 miles per hour, and his slider was excellent. Pineda had great control over all of his pitches, as he threw 31 of his 37 pitches for strikes. This was an exciting first outing for him that has to make the Yankees thrilled.
The Yankees have more bullpen spots open this spring than they have in a long time, and the candidates have responded. Dellin Betances, Preston Claiborne, Caesar Cabral and Mark Montgomery have not allowed a run so far. It would be huge for the Yankees if one of those pitchers can be reliable reliever for them this season.
Obviously, these are small sample sizes, and spring training results have to be taken with a grain of salt anyways, but the vibe around Yankees camp this spring is much better than it was last year. We will see whether that translates to the Bronx when the games start to count.