With the injuries piling up, Yankees GM Brian Cashman decided he would try to get a little creative to fill some spots so he called some retired players to gauge their interest. Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen quickly rejected any idea that they might come out of retirement, but Derrek Lee was at least considering it.
Lee is considering no more as Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports has reported that Lee has officially turned down the Yankees offer and will stay retired.
That’s probably just as well. The 37-year-old Lee hasn’t played baseball since 2011 when he hit .267/.325/.446 which isn’t bad, but he was already a few years removed from his better playing days. It wasn’t like the Andy Pettitte situation where he was working out with an eye on coming back. Lee had been retired and until Cashman called, there was no indication at all that he was even contemplating a return.
So the Yankees still don’t have a clear replacement for Mark Teixeira, who will miss at least a month and a half to start the season, and potentially more.
The best solution to this problem could be a platoon at both first and third base where Dan Johnson can play first against lefties with Kevin Youkilis at third base and against lefties they could have Ronnier Mustelier on third and move Youkilis to first. That would give them solid production offensively at each position.
My reasoning for that is that Johnson has hit .231/.317/.481 against southpaws since 2009 and just .170/.312/.339 against righties while Mustelier hits well from both sides, but does slightly better against righties hitting .325/.380/.485 against them in the minors last year. And, of course, you have Youk playing every day.
Juan Rivera could find his way into that platoon in place of Johnson if the Yankees feel his defense is up to it as he has hit a solid .287/.344/.491 against lefties since 2009.
• He’s barely been talked about this spring, but Thomas Neal is still very much in the outfield mix. Joe Girardi said, “I like what he’s done so far…His at-bats have been pretty good.”
Neal actually fits into this mix well as he hits righties slightly better than lefties so he could be platooned with either Matt Diaz or Juan Rivera.
• Phil Hughes took a big step in rehabbing his bad back yesterday when he threw a live bullpen session for the first time this spring. He felt fine afterward and will throw a simulated game on Monday.
• Hughes doesn’t think he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but said he could be by the second time through the rotation. That just gives Ivan Nova and David Phelps another chance to show what they’ve got before Girardi settles on one of them.
• CC Sabathia will make his first start this spring today.