Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner belong at the top of the order, but who leads off?

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Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner are both obvious locks for the roster. They’re both also locks to start on Opening Day and they’re slated to play side-by-side in the outfield. However, the main question concerning them isn’t where they’re going to play, it’s where they’re going to hit in the order. At first glance, Ellsbury and Gardner have almost the same numbers (Ellsbury: .271/.328/.419 in 2014, Gardner: .256/.327/.422 in 2014), they both have speed and they both play Gold Glove-caliber defense. Except for their contracts (Ellsbury: 7-yrs, $153 Million, Gardner: 4-yrs, $53 Million) they’re almost the same player. However, they both have their differences and the small differences could evaluate who is the better fit for the lead-off spot.

Jacoby Ellsbury: Ellsbury presents an interesting case for himself. He hits more singles, strikes out less than Gardner and he steals bases at an alarming rate. Ellsbury also has a tendency to swipe bags on the first or second pitch. He isn’t tentative, he just steals bags and easily gets himself into scoring position.

Brett Gardner: In certain aspects, Gardner is the opposite of Ellsbury: he strikes out more and while Gardner has the speed to steal second, Gardner’s extremely tentative. However, Gardner walks more than Ellsbury and has a bit more power, which could come in handy with the short porch at Yankee Stadium.

While it seems Ellsbury is the better candidate to hit at the top of the order, the Yankees could also use this approach: Since Gardner walks a tad more and Ellsbury is the better contact hitter, they could put Gardner at the top of the order and bat Ellsbury second. It’s one of the many ways to manufacture runs and judging from last season, there’s ..read more

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Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira have different views on beating the shift

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The shift is known as one of baseball’s greatest mind games. The players are put to the test and are forced to figure out out how they’re going to beat the shift and get on base. However, not every player is good at beating the shift and in the end it’s cost them points on their batting average. There were two Yankees who were unable to beat the shift last season no matter how hard they tried: Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira. McCann suffered for two-thirds of the season while Teixeira’s batting average suffered tremendously. This year, both McCann and Teixeira were asked how they planned to beat the shift. One player decided he was going to adapt, the other decided to stick to the game plan he kept ever since he was a young player.

Brian McCann: “I want to hit the ball where it’s pitched. It’s not necessarily that I’m going to try to go up there and hit the ball to left field. If it’s away from me, it needs to go to left field. If they come in on me, I need to be able to pull it, but pull correctly. If you pull correctly, you create back spin which is going to help you hit home runs. … If I hit two or three singles in a row to left field, they’re going to continue to play the shift because that’s where my power is. That’s just the way it is and whether that takes a couple of points off my batting average, if I take the approach I have day in and day out for 500 at-bats, at the end of the year things will be there.”

Mark Teixeira: “Thoughts on beating the ..read more

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Mark Teixeira feels confident he’ll have a good season

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We all know the famous story of Mark Teixeira coming to camp last season, hoping to have a good year after missing almost the entire 2013 season with a wrist injury. However, Teixeira’s year didn’t go the way he planned; he didn’t contribute much offensively and got hurt a lot. This year, Teixeira is coming into camp with a new mindset and hopes he can bounce back after two years of sub-par baseball.

“I was weaker than I’d probably ever been in my whole career last year just because of the injury the year before and not being able to work out like I usually do,” Teixeira said. “This was just a great offseason all around. … I probably lost two pounds; 15 pounds of fat I lost and gained 13 pounds of muscle, so I ended up losing about two pounds. Just shows how much deficit there was.”

Teixeira went on a diet that consisted of no gluten, no dairy and no sugar, changed his personal trainer and did the weight-heavy workouts he did when he was a younger player. Many of his dietary changes were made to fight off inflammation and the intense weight training was to get himself back to the player he once was–a player who hit 30 HR’s and notched 100 RBI’s.

“I’ve always been a big, strong guy,” he said. “Always been a big weight lifter. I convinced myself one offseason that I wanted to work on my swing more, and swung so much that I blew out my wrist. You learn. You learn from mistakes. I think you’re always learning from mistakes. I kind of basically just went back to what I’ve always done, and that’s just hit the weights really hard because I need to be strong. ..read more

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Andrew Bailey hopes to win job in Yankees bullpen

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Andrew Bailey reported to camp right after the Super Bowl with hopes of mentally and physically preparing himself for the 2015 season. But if you asked him if he was there as a rehabbing pitcher, he would tell you no. Instead, Bailey has come to camp with a legitimate chance of impressing the Yankees to the point where he could land a spot in the Yankees bullpen.

“One hundred percent,” Bailey said. “I came in and spent the offseason training, working as I would if I played last year. The doctor gave me 18, 24 months (to be healthy after surgery), and we’re in that 18th, 19th month. Everyone around here, training staff, coaches and strength and conditioning have all kind of (treated it as if) I’m a normal guy with some needs. Hopefully we get rid of those needs. Everything feels great. I’m with the team and doing everything as I would normally, and if I need a little extra work here or there, that’s fine too. I’m here to compete and earn a spot.”

Since reporting to Tampa, Bailey has thrown five bullpens and in between bullpens he takes a few days off here and there, which the Yankees believe is only a temporary precaution. Joe Girardi witnessed Bailey’s bullpen yesterday and told reporters he was impressed with the progress Bailey has made.

“I thought today he looked pretty good, actually,” Joe Girardi said. “I talked to Gil Patterson about it. Compared to where he was last year to where he is (now), there’s significant improvement. I don’t know exactly what we’ll see as far as games, and his bullpens are a little more spread out than maybe some of the other relievers, ..read more

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Position players report to camp today!

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On Friday, pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training to begin preparing for the 2015 season. Today, the position players are no longer banished to the Yankees minor league camp and are allowed to report to George M. Steinbrenner Field for their physicals. One of the many players that will attract attention throughout camp is Alex Rodriguez, who is coming off a suspension for his role in a steroid scandal. But Rodriguez has been getting his work in at the minor league complex and is attempting to prove to the Yankees he deserves a spot on the team. He was even spotted working out with fellow third basemen Chase Headley, which Headley was excited about.

Today’s the day where everyone is reunited which means the 2015 season can officially get underway. First workouts are tomorrow and the first baseball game is next week, which means Spring is in the air and America’s favorite past time has officially returned.

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Chase Headley excited to work with Alex Rodriguez

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While at the Yankees minor league complex earlier, there was a sight that many didn’t think would happen this early in camp: Alex Rodriguez and Chase Headley working out and talking baseball. Now, Chase Headley came into camp with the mentality he was going to be the every day third basemen and he continues to have that mentality. After all, it was one of the many reasons he re-signed with the Yankees.

“For me to be here, I feel like (playing third base) is what made sense,” Headley said. “We established that early on (in offseason contact negotiations). There’s a lot of things that can happen over the course of a season. Obviously the more bodies that you have that can fill positions (is) great, but if I thought I was coming here to be a first baseman or a left fielder or whatever, I wouldn’t have came back. That wouldn’t have made sense for me or the Yankees.”

Working with Rodriguez isn’t anything new for Chase Headley–he says it’s the same when he works with any new teammate. Although Rodriguez’s situation is special, Headley looks forward to working with Rodriguez and expects nothing but great things from him.

“As a player, you experience different things in your career,” Headley said. “And I’ve been around long enough that there’s been different sets of circumstances that I’ve dealt with, and this just another one. As far as a teammate, I expect him to be great. I’ve heard great things from other guys, and every interaction that I’ve had with him has been positive. Hopefully here in a few days everything will calm down and we’ll start talking about baseball, but you know, obviously you expect to answer the questions about him. ..read more

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Ivan Nova throws his third bullpen session

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Ivan Nova continues to make progress as he rehabs from Tommy John Surgery, and one thing Nova did today was throw a Yankees bullpen. However, this wasn’t Nova’s first bullpen session of the Spring.

“This is my third,” Nova said. “The first one, I remember I was so excited I forgot to say it was on the full mound so everyone was making fun of me because I said it was on a half mound. That day, I confused a lot of things, even in my house.”

Nova threw 25 pitches during this bullpen session, all fastballs. Nova will eventually bring the change into the mix and will later add the breaking balls to his repertoire.

“One good thing, you know you’re not going to be ready in April,” Nova said. “So you prepare yourself to be ready whenever they tell me. I don’t have to be thinking right now that I’ve got to be ready in April, so that’s kind of fortunate. I’m just taking it day by day, and I know that — I believe — a month before they think I’m going to be ready to go to the big leagues, they’re going to tell me. So that’s the time when I’m going to really prepare for that day.”

Nova hasn’t tried to rush the process, and he knows how difficult it is to return from Tommy John Surgery. But for right now, Nova is pleased with his progress.

“It’s a tough surgery,” Nova said. “We have to take it step by step and hopefully everything can go the way it’s gone so far, and we will be over there (in New York) soon.”

Some Notes

Alex Rodriguez once again made it to the Yankees ..read more

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Projecting the Yankees 25-man roster

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Although we won’t find out the 25-man roster until the beginning of April, it’s about that time where we project who will make the team, and who will find themselves starting the season elsewhere. Now, believe it or not the Yankees aren’t really looking to fill multiple holes in their roster, but as Joe Girardi said last Friday, the team is looking to see who will get the most playing time. There are still one or two spots that need to be assigned, but for now, let’s look at the roster that could break camp and head to Washington with the Yankees on April 3rd.

Starting Rotation

CC Sabathia: CC Sabathia is one of the many locks to make the team, but he’s focusing on having a comeback season, especially after a sub-par 2013 and an injury riddled 2014.

Masahiro Tanaka: Masahiro Tanaka is slated to start the season in the rotation, but all eyes will be on him during Spring Training as he hopes to keep the elbow intact and be the dominant pitcher we saw during the first half of the 2014 season.

Chris Capuano: Chris Capuano provides a veteran presence in the rotation, which is what the Yankees need with so many young pitchers. Don’t expect Capuano to be lights-out, but expect him to deliver quality starts.

Nathan Eovaldi: Nathan Eovaldi throws extremely hard and has a great fastball but with low strikeout numbers, the Yankees want him to work on throwing his breaking pitches this Spring.

Michael Pineda: Michael Pineda had a terrific season for the Yankees–when he was healthy. The Yankees hope Pineda can make more than 13 ..read more

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