Yankees Spring Training News & Notes: March 16, 2021

The Yankees played a Grapefruit League game today. They won that game. That’s the 7th game in a row now. Look, Spring Training is silly and all, but it’s nice when the Yankees win. Even in March. Let’s keep this energy up all season, guys.

Gerrit Cole took the hill. I’ll have more to say about that in a minute, but here is today’s Spring Training video courtesy of Bryan Hoch:

And, with that out of the way, let’s get to the news.

The Big Story: Gio Urshela, Shortstop

The Yankees had an interesting lineup today in Lakeland. Check it out here:

A few notable things here:Brett Gardner was in right, Clint Frazier was in left, Gio Urshela was at short. That’s right. Gio Urshela was at third base today. I think this is pretty clearly the most notable development from today’s day at camp, even if it is also very obviously a function of “it’s Spring Training; we’ll try anything.”

Urshela has appeared in 342 games as a big leaguer. Of those, 298 have been logged at third base, with just 13 as a shortstop. Still, in the era of shifts, it can’t be that unusual for Urshela. (Both he and Aaron Boone essentially said as much.) Boone noted that he would consider using Gio at short during the season “in a pinch.”

I don’t think this will ultimately amount to much, but it is interesting. Gio is obviously a good defender, UZR be damned, and even the slight option of positional versatility would be a benefit to the Yankees. While Derek Dietrich is a compelling idea in theory – and I’d rather the Yankees roster him over the competition – he hasn’t really hit. That leaves just Tyler Wade as an infield backup. Wade can play all over the infield, but there is surprisingly little versatility otherwise.

DJ LeMahieu can technically play third (he’s started there 98 times) and Gleyber can shift over to second, but that’s basically it. They don’t have a rover. A little more flexibility from Gio, who is probably up to the task, gives the Yankees just another tool in their toolbox.

How valuable it is remains to be seen, and it’s probably marginal, but hey, whatever. The Yanks constantly rest players and rarely trot out the same 9 every day. The more versatility, the better, in my book. But let’s be real: Gio probably gets 1 or 2 appearance at most at short this season. This is Spring Training stuff and very likely nothing more.

“Whenever Boonie needs to use me, I’ll be there playing shortstop,” Urshela told Bryan Hoch earlier. “I’ve played second base in the past before. I’ve played first a couple of times, so I’ll be ready to play any position when they need me.”

Leftovers

That’s the big story because it is the most interesting. But let me tell you: it was hard not to write 5,000 words about how awesome Gerrit Cole is, because he is. So that’s what this section is for.

  • Gerrit Cole Hits 100: We’re now in the ramp up section of Spring Training. Gerrit Cole thew 61 pitches today (32 fastballs, 12 sliders, 9 changeups, and 8 curves) and touched 100 miles-per-hour on the gun. He attacked the zone – he did surrender 2 HR – but was clearly in “let’s get ready for the season mode.” I love watching Cole pitch and cannot wait for Opening Day. Only two more fake Cole starts to go.
  • Jonathan Loaisiga Takes the Hill: My son Jonathan Loaisiga took the hill and only threw 10 fastballs (15 sinkers, though) for 24% of his pitches. Interesting usage and it’s worth keeping an eye on. Probably not a real thing, though he did use his sinker much more in 2020 after introducing it in 2019. This is most likely just more Spring tomfoolery, though.
  • Other Pitchers: Luis Cessa, Tyler Lyons, and Kyle Barraclough also all pitched today. You can see their breakdowns here, if you’re into that sort of thing.
  • Offensive Notes: Despite scoring 7 runs, it was a pretty quiet day for the Yankee offense. Gio Urshela had 2 hits, though, and Clint Frazier added 3, including a HR. Cool stuff.
  • Gary Sánchez, Cool Guy: Gary Sánchez spoke to the media today and he had some real chill vibes. Friends, I leave you with this:

And with that, another day in the books. We have a few more days to go before a game is broadcast, which sucks. This will be the last time before Opening Day, though: after Sunday, we’ll have a way to tune into every single Yankee game until the win the World Series in October.

I’ll leave you with that happy thought. Unless something else happens, have a great night, everyone.

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3 Comments

  1. Troy

    Love seeing Gio play SS. I have been hoping to see if he is capable for at least a year and telling anyone who would listen. If he can play a little SS and 2B, then on those days Miggy could slot in at 3rd. That is a huge offensive upgrade to Wade. Yes a defensive downgrade but likely more than balances out, especially with a fly ball pitcher like Cole on the mound (could make that a fairly regular alignment and get some defense back with Higgy behind the plate.)

  2. Mungo

    I do feel like there’s been fewer Yankee games available this spring than past years. Usually I can pick up a few additional Yankee games through MLB.tv through other team broadcasts, but even they seem more restricted this year.

  3. DanGer

    Akil Baddoo is an 80 grade name tool if I’ve ever seen one. Very cool.

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