Joe Girardi had his annual Spring Training press conference earlier today and he covered many topics, ranging from Derek Jeter to the starting rotation. Here were some things Girardi discussed during his press conference.
Where would Girardi slot Jeter in the lineup?
Spring Training games are a week from now and Opening Day is a month and a half away, so he wouldn’t have to really think about where he would put Jeter this instant. However, Girardi believes Jeter is the ideal #2 hitter so the Yankees wouldn’t have to continue piling on lefties. That would mean Brett Gardner would have to go down further in the lineup.
“I think we have a collection of very good hitters this year,” Girardi said. “I think our lineup is much deeper than it was last year from top to bottom. There’s more balance with some of the switch-hitters; Tex coming back and Beltran. Having Soriano the whole year, bringing Jeet back, I think there’s much more balance in our lineup. But as far as having that one guy that maybe you center the lineup around, I would say no.”
Who’s the backup first basemen?
All winter, everyone wondered what would happen if Mark Teixeira couldn’t play all year long. There was no clear backup for Teixeira when looking at the roster at first glance. Everyone’s worries vanished when Girardi announced Kelly Johnson as the new backup first basemen–for now. The Yankees haven’t spoken to Brian McCann as of yet about the backup first basemen scenario.
“I would say right now our backup first baseman would be Kelly Johnson if Tex needed a day off, and he’s going to need some days off,” Girardi said. “Everything has been positive signs for Tex. At times I talked about, it’s one thing to go through minor league rehab games and your workouts and your BP, because it can be a little bit guarded. But it’s another thing when you get into a big league game and it’s not so guarded. So I think you just have to pay attention to what he’s saying and the signs that he’s giving off. But I feel pretty good about his wrist, and I’m really looking forward to having him back.”
Is David Robertson the new closer?
The Yankees as of right now won’t commit to Robertson being the closer (despite Hal Steinbrenner saying he will be). Girardi did explain how Robertson should be able to handle the transition if he is the closer this season.
“I think he has all the ability in the world,” Girardi said. “And you think about closers, and you want pitchers that are strikeout guys. And that’s exactly what he has. I think for Robby, I remember coming in at a much smaller stage and you’re compared to someone. And then Tino was compared to Don Mattingly. And it’s important for Robby that he’s just himself, and that if something does go wrong one day, you’re going to be compared to Mo. You know what, I think Mo blew six or seven saves last year. Mo was human too, and you can’t get too caught up in just one game. I would love to say he’s going to go 45-for-45, but even the greatest closers of all time don’t do that. So for us, it’s just if it does become a media buzz or something, we just have to help him control it.”
Where would Michael Pineda fit on the team?
When the Yankees traded for Michael Pineda, they expected that he would slot into the rotation, but he won’t be given the role just because the Yankees acquired him for that purpose. He has to earn the role. If he doesn’t make the starting rotation, does he go to the bullpen? What’s his place on the team?
“We envision him as a starter,” Girardi said. “But I think that when we take a look at this, we’ve got to see how he’s doing as a starter. Then, once we pick our starters, we’ve got to pick what we believe is our best bullpen. So the answer to that is, I think anything is possible, but we envision him as a starter.”