Yankees Spring Training News & Notes: February 22, 2021

Hello, friends.

Happy Monday! Today was another day in camp for the Yankees, which is always nice. It sort of looks like a horror movie outside in New York right now so I appreciated the bad Spring Training Twitter Photo genre even more than normal today, honestly. First, here are some photos of position players reporting to camp, which happened today:

Love it. And here is one such video, a slow-motion capture of Gerrit Cole throwing a live BP, courtesy of Lindsey Adler:

So, with today’s requisite photography and videography out of the way, on to today’s news and notes after the jump.

The Big Story: Clarke Schmidt is Sidelined

Another year, another injury to a member of the New York Yankees pitching staff. C’est la vie. The first player to bite the injury bug in 2021 is 2020’s darling, 25-year-old righty Clarke Schmidt. He has what Aaron Boone described as a “common extensor strain” in his right elbow that the team expects will keep him sidelined for 3-4 weeks. That’s a bummer! If true, this means he will be out of commission until late April or early May at the earliest, as he’ll need to ramp up his throwing program before being game ready. And now he’ll likely spend some time in Triple-A.

The good news is that the team also said that his UCL is fine (he had an MRI on Friday). Schmidt has already had Tommy John, remember: it is why he is a Yankee in the first place. Let’s hope this is true and that this doesn’t spiral into one of the Yankees’ patented “he is fine but we’ll see him next year” injury specials. For his part, Schmidt says he got the injury by going all out in his first bullpen of the season. Frustrating, but he called it a learning experience.

This impacts the competition for the fifth starter role in a significant way. I think Schmidt had a good chance to win the job based on his spring performance last year as well as the promise he showed last year, but this obviously takes him out of the running. That leaves a few candidates, in order of likelihood of winning the job, in my view:

  1. Domingo Germán
  2. Michael King
  3. Jhoulys ChacĂ­n
  4. Deivi GarcĂ­a

The heavy runaway favorite here is Germán, who was the favorite before the injury and is even more so now. If I was a betting man, I would bet that Domingo is in the rotation come Opening Day. He’s the safe choice.

But it’s far from a lock. The Yankees do seem to like Michael King – who is working on improving his arsenal so that he has a third weapon – and have given him an opportunity to shine in the past. He did struggle in 2020 and feels like a better fit for the bullpen, but who knows. They like him.

As for ChacĂ­n, the Yanks signed him to an $800,000 MiLB deal in early January. The 33-year-old has a 4.04 ERA (4.22 FIP) in ~1,300 career innings, though he was very bad in 100 innings in 2019. (He only pitched 5 innings last year.) Before that, he was pretty good though. It wouldn’t shock me to see him win the job. I don’t know why. It just wouldn’t, and hey: maybe he could give us a 2011 Freddy GarcĂ­a redux. He does give off those vibes.

Deivi is the longest shot here. He is probably the most talented of the bunch, but there are service time considerations (they won’t ever say as much) and I do think he could benefit from a few more months in Triple-A. He was great last year but he’s still so damn young. He’ll be here before we know it. I’d be stunned for him to win the job. He’d to truly excel in camp. I’d welcome it, but I can’t really see it.

Anyway, all of this is to say that the race is now even more wide open, even it if is Germán’s to lose. Schmidt’s injury is a bummer. I was looking forward to watching him pitch this spring. Now I’ll have to wait until May. Blegh.


That bummer of an injury aside, it seemed to be a pretty good day in Yankees camp. Lot going on, as one would expect. Here are the highlights:

  • Pitching News: Obviously, while position players reported to camp today, this is still a pitcher-heavy day. Most of the updates relate to that, so let’s get right to them.
    • Gerrit Cole threw live BP today, which is always pretty cool. Boone said his command needs to come, which is natural given the fact it’s the first live BP of the spring, but that “he used all of his pitches and I think did exactly what he needed to do today to take that next step in his progression to get ready for the season.” Good stuff. Boone also noted that Cole will be the Opening Day starter. Shocking!
    • In addition to Cole, seven other Yanks threw live BP, per Bryan Hoch. Those included: Kyle Barraclough, Nestor Cortes Jr., Brooks Kriske, Lucas Luetge, Tyler Lyons, Jordan Montgomery, and Nick Nelson.
    • And here is the daily update on the new pitching infrastructure with some insight into the tech they have in there:
  • Injury News: We have a few updates on the injury front from the non-Schmidt division, too. These are good ones, for once.
    • Gio Urshela may get some action in Sunday’s Spring Training debut, believe it or not. He probably won’t start, but that’s a good sign. He also ran the bases today. Cool!
    • More significantly, Luis Severino continues to progress. He threw from 90 feet on flat ground today and will throw from 120 feet tomorrow. He also said he is confident in the Yankee rotation and that he’s 100 percent confident he’ll be his old self when he returns. Love to see it. (He also said he has only been throwing fastballs so far, and that he’ll be “spinning the ball” again next week.)
  • Brett Gardner had a physical today and is just ironing out the final details of his contract. He should be in camp soon.
  • Finally, another update on Domingo Germán from Lindsey Adler (subs req’d). The situation continues to be very bad, but I’ve said all I have to say on this for now. Nothing has changed.

So goes another day in Yankee camp. We’re now a day closer to the first Grapefruit League game (Sunday!) so that is cool. Let’s hope we can get there without sustaining any more injuries. That would be even cooler. Unless anything big happens, we’ll see you tomorrow. Have a good night, everyone.


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1 Comment

  1. Mungo

    If Jhoulys ChacĂ­n looks even vaguely decent, I expect him to win the 5th rotation spot out of camp. 2021 is going to be about managing workloads, and my guess is ChacĂ­n has an optout. The Yankees will allow him to absorb some innings early on, knowing that they can eventually mix in German, Garcia and Schmidt. They’ll want to see if Chacin from a couple years back is still there, and the only way they can do that is to give him one of the rotation spots out of the gate. The Schmidt injury, while not good, has a benefit as it will allow them to reduce his innings on the year and work him in later as needed.

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