By Chad Jennings
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)