Ronnie Belliard, who hadn’t played in any spring training games thanks to a calf injury, returned today and went 0-for-2 while playing third base.
Belliard, 36 in April, was signed to compete for a backup job with the Yankees, but it seems that his injury might have cost him a chance for a real competition.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said that he would like to have one middle infielder and one corner infielder on the team. Eric Chavez might have grabbed that spot while Belliard was out. Belliard could still potentially make the team as a middle infielder, but that job seems more likely to go to Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena.
So it seems like Belliard is the odd man out and he hasn’t even gotten a shot yet. He does have experience up the middle, but at his age he will come no where close to the defense Pena or Nunez could provide and those two players are also options in the outfield where Belliard wouldn’t be.
That doesn’t mean that he should be completely written off. Spring training isn’t over and while he isn’t likely to beat out Chavez with his bat, he could win by default. Chavez has suffered through a myriad of injuries over the years and it is no guarantee that he stays healthy.
I do wonder what will happen if Belliard doesn’t make the team out of spring. Will he be willing to stick around in the minors? That may not even be necessary as the Yankees could always go to Brandon Laird to replace Chavez if he gets injured further down the road.
Unfortunately for Belliard, he doesn’t seem like much more than an insurance policy at this point with no real place on the team.