Original story Posted on September 23, 2015 By Sam Wroblewski
Baseball legend Yogi Berra passed away Monday night at the age of 90, leaving behind a legacy as one of the greatest to ever wear the Yankees uniform as a player and manager.
Aside from his winning record, Berra was best known for his common sense one-liners such as, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it,” and “You can observe a lot just by watching.”
But one little known piece of trivia is that the famous ball player may have laced up his shoes and run the bases as an amateur player in Cranston.
According to blogger Edward Iannuccilli, Berra while in the service of the merchant marines and station in Groton Connecticut, would make the trek to Cranston to play at the stadium for the New England League team The Chiefs.
Quoting a book on New England baseball history, Iannuccilli writes, “[A] guy named Cusano kept hitting home runs for the Cranston Chiefs and few people knew that his real name was Yogi Berra, a top Yankee prospect.”
PS: The full name Yogi used was Joe Cusano , and the team was actually called the Cranston Fire Chiefs , they wore wool uniforms that resembled the uniforms of the Milwaukee Braves
Gardner, who throws left-handed, apparently injured the wrist when jumping for a ball against the outfield wall in the top of the second inning while playing center against the Houston Astros (video below).
General manager Brian Cashman said Gardner reached out in the weeks after the Wild Card game and said that his wrist was bothering him. A CT scan showed a bone bruise.
Cashman said Thursday at Yankees camp that Gardner took only dry swings this winter, meaning he hasn’t hit live pitching in the batting cages.
“We’re just going to stagger him out (this spring),” Cashman said.
See video of the play here:
Gardner, 32, suffered a hurt right wrist earlier last season that coaches said may have contributed to his decline at the plate; in the second half last season Gardner hit just .206. That wrist, though, doesn’t appear to still be an issue.
Cashman said it’s not unusual for a bone bruise to take this long—four and a half months—to heal.
“A lot of times the time frame for bone bruises, on diagnostic testing, to completely dissipate, you could be waiting a year,” he said. “But I know he feels good, but we’re going to take it slow because we can.”
Cashman said the team hasn’t thought far enough ahead about whether Gardner would play in the first spring game (March 2).
“We’ll do the tee and dry toss and then expand it just because we have a timeframe on it,” Cashman said. “Spring training’s long enough, so we don’t have to be rushing on anything.”
The team is not planning any more CT scans for Gardner this spring. The last one, he said, showed “significant” improvement, Cashman said.
It’s said that bruises usually last a few months but if they’re severe enough, can take a year to fully recover. Gardner has a history of wrist problems dating back to last year and when he had surgery in 2010 on his right wrist.
New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira (25) hits a two-run home run against the New York Mets during the third inning at Yankee Stadium.
By Ryan Hatch
TAMPA —Yankees‘ first baseman Mark Teixeira smacked a foul ball off his right leg on August 17 last season and was barely seen again, test results later showing he broke his leg.
It was the fourth season in a row Teixeira failed to play a full season, injuries hampering the second half of his eight-year, $180 million contract he signed with the team in 2009.
But the leg break was a freak injury, Texieira notedWednesday at Yankees camp, and said that if he can play like he did the first 109 games last year, there’s no reason he can’t stay in the league for several more years.
He said he’s fully healthy now, off crutches last October and is running “100-percent.”
“I’d love to play five more years,” Teixeira, 35, said. “I’d love to play until I’m 40…My body feels so good, why not play until I’m 40? Being the kind of hitter I am, I can be a DH the last few years of my career, which could really prolong it. I would love to play that long.”
Where he will be spending those years is uncertain. Teixeira will be a free agent after this season and it’s not likely the team would bring him back, considering 23-year-old Greg Bird is waiting in the wings, despite being sidelined this season with a torn labrum in his back.
Teixeira, though, says he would prefer to stay in New York.
“That’s probably the easiest question you could ask me,” Teixeira, who lives in Connecticut, said about staying in Pinstripes.
Teixeira hit 31 home runs last season and was playing Gold Glove defense before the injury. If he performs like that again, he said, there’s no reason he can’t secure another contract, even if it’s not in New York.
“I think I have a lot of good years left in me especially after last year,” he said. “The great thing about contract years is if you do your job on the field for your team, the contract works out for you.”
Seven years, he said, have gone by in an instant. But coming off another full offseason of training accompanying his “no-fun” diet (gluten-free) he expects himself, along with veteransCarlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez to be productive as they finish up their careers.
“[They] are two of the best players in our generation,” he said. “Those guys have the capability of doing amazing things and I think together we can still do it no matter how old we are.”
Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jays celebrates his eighth inning home run with teammate Edwin Encarnacion #10 as Brian McCann #34 of the New York Yankees looks on at Yankee Stadium on September 12, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City
By Joe Giglio
Joey Bats in pinstripes?
As spring training contract conversation between Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays leads Canada’s best player closer and closer to a date with free agency next winter, the Yankees make sense as a team that could sign the slugger.
Yes, despite New York’s mantra to get younger, more athletic and less expensive, the 35-year-old outfielder is an intriguing option to be part of Yankees spring training one year from now.
Before scrolling down to the comments section to yell and scream about this thought, at least acknowledge this much: Bautista is one of baseball’s truly great players. Since 2010, the Blue Jays star has averaged a .945 OPS, 156 OPS+, 38 HR, appeared in six All-Star Games and had four finishes in the top 10 of AL MVP voting. In that span, here’s the complete list of players with an OPS+ over 150: Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and Bautista.
With that established, here’s why Bautista-to-New York is a marriage that can (and maybe should) happen next winter:
BAUTISTA WANTS TO GET PAID: As fans have noticed the last few days, contract demands for Bautista will be insane. But he deserves it. According to Fangraphs, he’s been worth $195.7M since 2011. His contract over that span? $65 million. Even with a $14M option for 2016, Bautista hasn’t truly cashed in yet on his production.
NEXT YEAR’S FREE AGENT CLASS IS WEAK: Compared to this year and what’s coming in the near future. If the Yankees want to sign a star, not many are available.
HIS AGE WON’T HURT THE PLAN: It’s clear that the Yankees want to get younger, but signing Bautista for his late 30s won’t destroy that ideal. Next season—even with Bautista—the Yankees could have Greg Bird, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius andAaron Judge as everyday players in their 20s. Plus, Bautista isn’t your typical 35-year-old and could age very well.
A-ROD’S REPLACEMENT: Last year, the Red Sox signed Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez with an eye on one becoming the heir to David Ortiz’s designated hitter throne. With Alex Rodriguez’s contract up after 2018, that could be Bautista’s eventual job after a season or two in the outfield.
Signed to a minor league contract this winter, there’s a good chance veteran catcher Carlos Corporan will never actually play in the minor leagues for the Yankees.
Corporan told me this morning that he has an opt-out in his contract for late March. Basically, the Yankees have until the end of spring training to decide whether they want to keep him or go with one of their other backup catcher options, either Gary Sanchez or Austin Romine. While Sanchez stands out as the perceived favorite, Corporan is the most established option, having spent the past five years as the backup catcher in Houston and Texas. He’s a defense-first player who prides himself on working with a pitching staff.
There’s little for Corporan to prove this spring — he’s 32 with an established track record — and the Yankees basically have to choose between his experience, Sanchez’s upside or Romine’s familiarity.
“Everybody knows what I can do,” Corporan said. “I’m not going to try to be somebody that I’m not, so (what the Yankees see) is going to be me. I know, and I’m pretty sure, whatever direction they’re going to go with is going to be the best for the team. And I’m happy with it.”
Because Romine is out of options and has the right to refuse an outright assignment, the Yankees would likely lose both Corporan and Romine if they decide to carry Sanchez as their big league backup. That would leave their catching depth thinned out considerably with Sebastian Valle and Eddy Rodriguez looking like the top options for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Worth wondering whether the Yankees could be convinced that they’re better off keeping some of their depth by carrying Corporan or Romine on Opening Day and optioning Sanchez to Triple-A for at least a few weeks.
• One veteran in camp without an opt-out clause is long-time Twins reliever Anthony Swarzak, who said he did not ask his agent to push for an opt-out because he feels committed to the Yankees regardless of his role. Swarzak said he’s open to going to Triple-A if that’s what the Yankees decide, but he’s obviously in camp hoping to earn a big league bullpen job, possibly as a long reliever (a role he had for four years in Minnesota). He spent three months pitching as a starter in Korea last season, but he said he’s not sure whether the Yankees are planning to use him as a starter this season. He’s basically open to any role, but hoping to prove he can be a guy to provide multiple innings out of the bullpen in New York.
• Random fact about Swarzak: He went to high school in Florida, and in his final high school game, he won a state championship right here at Steinbrenner Field (back when it was called Legends Field). Swarzak won that game, then signed with the Twins.
• Today’s newest position player arrival is outfielderLane Adams, who went through a lot of waiver wire back and forth this offseason. He wound up with the Yankees, but off the 40-man roster, and he’s here to basically provide some right-handed balance to the team’s outfield options. His skill set — speed and defense first and foremost — are vaguely similar to many of the Yankees other Triple-A outfield options, but most of those are left-handed.
• Random fact about Adams: Out of high school, he went to Missouri State for two days on a basketball scholarship with no plans of playing baseball in college. He’d been a fairly highly recruited shooting guard out of high school but didn’t get a ton of scholarship attention for baseball, then the Royals drafted him and Adams left college to begin his pro baseball career. He said he can still dunk, but he’s not sure he’s nearly the shooter he used to be.
• Just something I noticed in the clubhouse this morning: Because he’s basically locked up a rotation spot, it’s easy to forget how young Luis Severino is. This morning, he was in a locker laughing and joking with a fellow pitcher, but it wasn’t CC Sabathia or Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi. Severino was locked in a familiar and friendly conversation with low-level starter Domingo German. Severino is more than a year younger than German.
Pitchers are basically on an every-three-days bullpen schedule right now, which means the guys who threw on Friday will throw again on Monday. Today’s daily schedule listed the guys scheduled to come in for early stretch and preparation tomorrow. The names listed: Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Vicente Campos, Nick Rumbelow, Jacob Lindgren, Branden Pinder, Diego Moreno and Chad Green.
Morning live batting practice
Earlier this morning, before the regular workout, the only two pitchers in camp who hadn’t thrown official bullpens got on the mound. They had clearly been throwing at the minor league complex, because each one faced Eddy Rodriguez and Francisco Diaz during their sessions.
• Mark Montgomery (to Sebastian Valle)
• Kyle Haynes (to Santiago Nessy)
Yankees right-handed starting pitcher James Kaprielian, 21, pictured above in his UCLA days, has already turned the heads of team officials before spring training starts
By Brendan Kuty
TAMPA, Fla. — The Yankees felt confident they knew what they were getting inJames Kaprielian and that any questions they may have had about him would be answered quickly.
That’s why the organization spent its highest draft pick since 1993 — the No. 16 overall selection — on the UCLA right-hander last June, and why they believe he’ll shoot through their farm system and contribute in the Bronx sooner than later.
But Kaprielian has recently shown some feel in an area that the Yankees might not have expected. Or at least not this soon.
“He’s shown some leadership ability among the players,” Yankees vice president of player development, Gary Denbo, told NJ Advance Media on Tuesday. “He’s been a big part of things here (in Captains Camp) and he’s another guy we think that, over the long term, has an excellent chance to be part of our major league rotation.”
Kaprielian, 21, will be among the youngest report to the Yankees’ major league spring training this year. Only 20-year-old shortstop Jorge Mateo — widely viewed as the club’s top prospect — is younger. Shortstop Tyler Wade and outfielderDustin Fowler are each 21, too.
That speaks volumes about how the Yankees feel when it comes to Kaprielian, who, at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds, has also impressed Denbo with his athleticism.
“We have to give a lot of credit to our amateur scouting department and (vice president and director of amateur scouting) Damon Oppenheimer,” Denbo said. “They did a great job of identifying James and he has come into camp this spring in top physical condition. He’s in great shape and he obviously has the tools to be very successful at a high level.”
Of course, Kaprielian doesn’t have much professional experience. He’s appeared in just five games — two in the Gulf Coast League and three at short-season Staten Island. But he’s pitched well throughout his time in front of Yankees’ personnel, including during instructional league play, Denbo said.
“He’s shown the ability to locate his fastball,” Denbo said. “His breaking ball has the chance to be a plus pitch for him. The change up also has improved the more he’s pitched and will as he develops. He’s shown improvement in velocity in the course of last season.”
“Judge ranked 47th out of position players ranked in the Top 100 in (strikeout) rate, at 26.7. Compare him to (Dodgers OF/1B prospect Cody) Bellinger, who was young for his league and is a better athlete, plus a more conventional body. I was on Judge last year in the (Florida State League), but he was pretty bad in Triple-A — .681 OPS and almost 4-1 K-BB rate. Why should Judge rank so much higher than (Padres OF prospect) Hunter Renfroe? Renfroe has similar athleticism and power, similar swing-and-miss issues, similar athleticism, similar profile, has reached Triple-A and was drafted ahead of Judge in the same draft. I can see liking Judge better; I think he has better feel for hitting than Renfroe. But ultimately I think they’ll provide very similar value.”
And while we’re on the subject of the Yankees in Baseball America’s Top 100 list, Manuel also explained the exclusion of the organization’s first-round pick of 2016, right-handed starting pitcher James Kaprielian.
“I did include him on my personal Top 100 right around No. 74, as I think I have more belief in his fastball velocity and effectiveness than the rest of the staff. Very good pro debut didn’t hurt, and I thought he was the best bet among college starting pitchers in the 2015 draft class as well. That said, he did pitch at 89-91 mph a lot for UCLA in his career, and that was with an extra day or two of rest compared to what he’ll get as a pro. There’s good reason for skepticism.”
Pitchers and catchers report to Yankees camp in three days, so it’s getting close to decision time for a few open spots on the big league roster. Perhaps the most wide-open piece of the roster is the bullpen where the Yankees have at least two spots — and perhaps as many four — up for grabs. Seems safe to assume a seven-man bullpen. If the Yankees carry an eighth reliever from time to time, that will be a luxury and likely not a long-term roster construction. More often than not, the Yankees will almost certainly carry seven relievers.
Beyond the big three in the late innings, what’s the best way to fill the rest of the bullpen?
By my count, there are roughly 20 possibilities to fill a seven-man bullpen out of spring training. Those 20 options pretty easily break down into these six categories:
Three spots obviously set:
1. Aroldis Chapman 2. Andrew Miller 3. Dellin Betances
If Chapman is suspended for his offseason domestic indient, the Yankees will have another spot temporarily available, but clearly Chapman is a part of the plan. Can’t go into spring training thinking of these three spots up for grabs. These three have nothing left to prove. As long as they’re healthy and available, they’ll be in the pen.
The only question with these three is how exactly Joe Girardi will use them. We know he plans to have Chapman as the closer, but the exact role for Miller and Betances is a little less defined. Are they true setup relievers? Are they going to be assigned an inning? Are they could be used based on matchups? Would Girardi designate one of them as a setup man and designated the other to be a fireman, getting the Yankees out of jams at any moment?
How they’re used might be up in the air, but these three bullpen spots aren’t really up for grabs. And as long as the entire rotation stays healthy this spring, another bullpen spot might also be automatically claimed.
One spot that’s ideally set: 4. Ivan Nova/CC Sabathia
Unless the Yankees decide to send Luis Severino to the minors in an attempt to manage his workload, they’re surely planning to break camp with Severino, Masashiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi filling four rotation spots (it’s hard to imagine any of those four becoming bullpen options). That leaves Sabathia as the presumptive favorite for the fifth spot, which leaves Nova as the sixth starter heading into camp.
If all of those starters stay healthy, the Yankees will surely put one of them in the bullpen as an Adam Warren-type reliever who can deliver multiple innings and potentially spot start if necessary. My guess is Nova best fits that role, but Brian Cashman has left open the possibility of Sabathia falling into the bullpen discussion (my question: if Sabathia pitches poorly in spring training, are the Yankees really going to put him in the pen, or will they simply put him on the DL?).
These two get lumped together because there’s surely room for only one of them in the pen, and there might not be a spot for either of them.
One spot that might have a heavy favorite 5. Chasen Shreve
Even though he was pretty awful at the end of the year, it’s impossible to ignore the way Shreve pitched through the first five months of last season. He handled both lefties and righties, had more than a strikeout per innings, stepped into a seventh-inning role for a while, occasionally got five or six outs at a time, and opponents were hitting just .177 against him heading into the second week of September.
That final month, though, was so bad he wasn’t even on the wild card roster.
If not for that final month, I can’t imagine any way Shreve wouldn’t break camp in the big league bullpen this year. Even if he had a bad spring, he’d surely get the benefit of the doubt (a terrific regular season would have to trump a bad month of exhibition games). But because of that final month, and because Shreve’s track record is pretty limited, he probably has something to prove this spring. He might be a heavy favorite, but he’s probably not guaranteed anything.
Additional long relief possibilities 6. Bryan Mitchell 7. Anthony Swarzak 8. Diego Moreno 9. Tyler Cloyd 10. Luis Cessa
This group becomes more important if one of the starting pitchers gets hurt, forcing Nova into the rotation and leaving the Yankees without a true long man. There are other guys who can pitch two or three innings if necessary — including Shreve — but surely the Yankees will want a true long man. We know it’s a role they value (otherwise, it’s tough to explain Esmil Rogers and Chris Capuano).
Mitchell stands out as a guy who could be seen as a multiple-inning guy with some late-inning potential. Swarzak stands out as a guy who can pitch long and has the advantage of nearly 200 games of big league experience. Moreno has the advantage of familiarity, and surely Joe Girardi hasn’t forgotten that tremendous long relief appearance in Texas last season. Cloyd also has big league experience — but none in the past two years — and Cessa has the advantage of being on the 40-man roster (though last year’s Triple-A numbers weren’t good, and he was clearly acquired for rotation depth, not bullpen innings). If you want to include Brady Lail, Chad Green, Richard Bleier and Tyler Olson in this group, that’s fair, but my own guess is that Mitchell and Swarzak are at the top of the pecking order for this bunch.
Additional left-handed options 11. James Pazos 12. Jacob Lindgren 13. Tyler Webb 14. Tyler Olson
If the Yankees do carry Shreve and have Chapman available, that means they’ll have three lefties in the pen. None of those lefties, though, would have to be used as a left-on-left specialist, and we saw last season that Girardi is willing to carry as many as four or five lefties in the pen. Given the current setup, it actually might make sense to carry four lefties just so that one of them can serve as a middle-inning matchup specialist. Could be a good way to get a young guy’s feet wet while gradually giving him more universal opportunities.
Right now, I would guess that the remaining left-handed depth chart looks something like what’s listed above, with Pazos and Lindgren at the top of the pecking order, with a fairly significant gap before Webb and Olson. That’s based on the fact the Yankees had Pazos on their wild card roster last season, and based on the fact they clearly wanted to give Lindgren a long look before he struggles through a sore elbow and wound up having season-ending surgery.
My guess is, either Pazos or Lindgren will end up breaking camp with the team.
Additional right-handed options 15. Nick Rumbelow 16. Branden Pinder 17. Vinnie Pestano 18. Kyle Yates 19. Nick Goody 20. Johnny Barbato
While some of these guys — and maybe all of these guys — could pitch two innings at a time, it’s hard to think of them as true long relief candidates. More likely, they’re one-inning guys who can go a little longer if necessary. We saw the Yankees cycle through a bunch of relievers like that last season, and they could very well do the same thing this year.
As for Opening Day, it seems likely the Yankees will have room for at least one of these guys to break camp in the big leagues. Pinder got a decent amount of big league time last year, and he pitched pretty well when he was used in lower-leverage situations. Rumbelow didn’t get the same number of innings, but he did impress at certain times, and his name has been mentioned occasionally this winter as a legitimate candidate worth watching.
Because of their Major League experience, I’d put Pestano and Yates — especially Pestano — right in the mix with Pinder and Rumbelow as Opening Day options. Goody and Barbato are probably in that conversation as well, but I would guess that they’re lower in the pecking order.
Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals stands on the sidelines before the start of the BattleFrog Fiesta Bowl between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.
It appears the Washington Nationals right fielder agrees.
Speaking on 106.7 The Fan radio in D.C. on Friday morning, the 23-year-old Harper responded to a question about his looming free agency and the idea that he could be the first ballplayer to secure a $400 million contract:
“Yeah, I mean I don’t really think about that stuff,” Harper said. “I just try to play the years out and do everything I can to help my team win,” Harper said. “But don’t sell me short. That’s what you’re doing right now to me, so don’t do that.”
Harper is one of the best players on the planet but also appears to be a shrewd businessman, perhaps influenced by his mega agent Scott Boras, universally known for securing big contracts for clients.
If Harper, who will be 26 when he hits the open market, signs for upwards of $500 million, that means he’ll likely be paid roughly $50 million per year (or about $86,000 per at-bat).