Spring training is winding down as the Yankees get set to open their season at home against the Detroit Tigers this week. The lineup is mostly set, the rotation is finally set, but there have been a few loose ends to wrap up in the bullpen and the bench.
I went over the bullpen earlier today. Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and Bartolo Colon have six spots locked down. The final one is likely to go to Steve Garrison with Luis Ayala and Mark Prior also possible options.
The bench is a bit more of a mystery. The only spot that is locked down for sure is Andruw Jones‘ spot as the 4th outfielder, but with Curtis Granderson‘s health in question there is another outfield spot up for grabs. That means that virtually none of the bench spots are locked down yet.
Well there is one spot, although it hasn’t been officially announced yet and that’s Eric Chavez. Chavez has virtually won a spot as the backup third and first baseman after showing up to spring training fully healthy for the first time in years.
After Chavez though it is either Ramiro Pena or Eduardo Nunez for the utility infielder, Jesus Montero or Gustavo Molina as the backup catcher, and Justin Maxwell, Chris Dickerson, or Greg Golson as the 5th outfielder. Ronnie Belliard is the lone wildcard left that could surprise somebody and grab a spot, but that’s a longshot.
Granderson is really the only wrench in the mix at this point as they have said it’s about 50-50 whether or not he starts the season on the DL. If he doesn’t, since Dickerson seems to be the most likely 5th outfield candidate and has been dealing with muscle problems, the Yankees could opt to go with both Nunez and Pena. In that scenario they would be using Pena as the emergency outfielder in case someone went down. That issue really depends on Granderson’s and Dickerson’s health more than anything else though.
So in the last few days of spring training there is just one bullpen spot and quite a few bench spots that needed to be sorted out. A good guess at the winners is Garrison for the pen with Chavez, Nunez, Molina, and Dickerson on the bench.