With Opening Day ten days away, Joe Girardi will begin to piece together his team and he’ll start with the rotation. He’s expected to make his decision on Tuesday and although it’s not official, many have speculated Michael Pineda has won the fifth starting job. Sure, David Phelps has pitched well this Spring, he even fooled the Boston Red Sox A-Lineup in his last start, but it’s easier to envision Phelps as a bullpen guy rather than a starter.
“Rotations can get on a roll, and our rotation has been on a roll,” Girardi said. “And it’s not just five people. It’s like eight people. It’s been really fun to watch, and my guess is they’re competing against each other. I think today’s a heavy workload for Tanaka and Kuroda, so you want to see how they do when the pitch count gets really high. It’s been pretty good. It’s been fun to watch.”
Masahiro Tanaka had the option of avoiding the two hour bus ride to Fort Meyers to play the Minnesota Twins, but he really wanted to face a Major League lineup. He’s slated to go six innings or 90 pitches, meaning this could be his ultimate test.
— Jacoby Ellsbury is expected to take batting practice today. He’ll also do drills and will run but he won’t get into a game any earlier than Tuesday.
— Hiroki Kuroda is pitching at the minor league camp and he’s also expected to go 6 innings or 90 pitches.
— David Herndon was slated to pitch in yesterday’s game but since CC Sabathia, Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley and David Robertson pitched so well, he was given the option of going to Fort Meyers or staying in Tampa for a minor league game. He chose to take the bus ride to Fort Meyers.
— Kelly Johnson is getting the start at first base for the second time this Spring. His original position is second base but Johnson is so comfortable with moving around the diamond (and playing in the outfield), that Joe Girardi doesn’t have to worry about him. “I’m not worried about him,” Girardi said. “He knows how to play there. During the season (he might play there), but I won’t worry about it in spring training.”
— Joe Girardi also said while he’s announcing the fifth starter spot on Tuesday, the bullpen spots will be announced a week later. “I would think probably we’ll still be evaluating at the end there, but it’s got to be decided before Saturday because we leave Saturday,” he said.