The Yankees break from camp in 10 days and there have been answers to many of the questions that occurred in the beginning of Spring Training. We’re aware of how Masahiro Tanaka will adjust to the Major Leagues, we know how the outfield will look for the next few years (although Jacoby Ellsbury is battling a slight calf issue), Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are 100% healthy and the players that are fighting for jobs are making cases for themselves.
Although some questions have been solved, there are still lingering issues as the team enters the season. One of them has to do with the status of Ichiro Suzuki; where will Ichiro play now that the Yankees outfield consists of Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano as the backup and primary DH?
“When the offseason started he was an everyday outfielder, and then some things changed,” Girardi said to the New York Daily News. “We signed some outfielders and his role has possibly changed now. But you have to prepare guys as if they’re going to play every day because you don’t ever know what’s going to happen. And we’ve done that.”
Another question the Yankees have is who will be the fifth starter. Currently Michael Pineda, David Phelps and Adam Warren are competing for the final spot in the rotation with Pineda the favorite to win the job. Girardi hasn’t declared who would be the winner of the fifth starter spot, but he has kept his eyes open.
“I think ironing out your pitching staff is a big one, because that’s half of your team,” Girardi said. “What happens to your rotation, and then what happens to your bullpen is a big thing.
“We’re starting to formulate it. Obviously it will be much clearer for us when we decide who our fifth starter is. I don’t know if we’ll decide it by the end of the weekend, or if we’ll wait a little bit longer.”
Another issue the Yankees have to address: David Robertson is the Yankees closer but there’s still the job of building the bridge to get to Robertson. So far Matt Thornton and Shawn Kelley are the only other locks in the Yankees bullpen and if Pineda wins the the fifth starter spot, Warren and Phelps will join them. That leaves two spots open, meaning it will be a battle between Preston Claiborne, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral, Vidal Nuno, Fred Lewis, Matt Daley, Dan Burawa and Chris Leroux. Girardi doesn’t have all the pieces to the bullpen figured out as of yet, but it will get there in time.
“I think that’s something that’s going to have to work its way out a little bit,” Girardi said. “Will it be as clear-cut as last year? Probably not. Not in the beginning. Part of the problem right now is I don’t have all the pieces in the bullpen yet in mind to be able to do that.”