The Yankees returned to Grapefruit League action after yesterday’s day off and lost to the Tigers, 6-5. It was the last TV-less game for the Bombers until Sunday. Tomorrow’s the rare spring training night game, starting at 6:35pm on YES. I have some notes on this afternoon’s affair, but first, the main headline:
The Big Stories: Zack Britton’s surgery and Clint Frazier’s outfield scare
Unfortunately, today’s significant news is injury related. Zack Britton will have surgery to remove bone chips from his left elbow after experiencing soreness yesterday. We probably won’t see him in the Bronx for a few months.
Britton’s injury opens up another bullpen job. I already wrote about the competition for the last spot, but now there are two openings up for grabs. And although I didn’t include him in my previous article, I’m really starting to think that Lucas Luetge has as good of a shot as anyone to nab a role in the majors. Especially after this news for Britton.
The Yankees can take solace in the fact that the bullpen is already very deep. While Britton will be missed, the likes of Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Justin Wilson, and Darren O’Day are more than capable of handling the late innings. Maybe this is Jonathan Loaisiga’s opportunity to break out, too.
For a moment today, Britton wasn’t the only player on the Yankees with health concerns. In today’s game vs. Detroit, Clint Frazier collided into the outfield wall while tracking Willi Castro’s home run. Aaron Boone and the training staff immediately came to check on Clint, who was able to stay in the game. Scary stuff, especially for someone who suffered a concussion crashing into the outfield wall previously. As you know, it took him a long, long time to recover.
Aaron Boone says Clint Frazier came through “fine” after the collision with the wall this afternoon.— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) March 9, 2021
He said when he visited Frazier in the OF to make sure he was okay, Frazier explained that he knows what a concussion feels like and this was “nothing like that.”
Clint saying that is good to hear, but I’m sure this will be monitored in the coming days. Hopefully it truly is no big deal. But Clint, please, stay away from the wall the rest of camp.
- Gary Sánchez‘s hot spring continues. He launched a solo shot against Detroit’s Derek Norris in the fifth inning today, his third homer of the exhibition season. Spring training stats typically don’t mean much, but if Gary wasn’t hitting and striking out a ton, folks would be having a meltdown. So his current performance to date is nothing but a good thing, and it certainly looks like the adjustments he’s made are starting to pay off.
This is a great shot to show why I harp on Gary’s timing. He’s in sync with the pitcher, it let’s him hold his back foot in the ground, and he holds his stretch. He can recognize the pitch, store energy, and keep a great bat path. There are other things but the timing is big. https://t.co/7hB4loUmyE— Randy (@pamsson) March 9, 2021
- Deivi García blanked the Tigers over three innings. He surrendered two hits and struck out five. Of note: his fastball velocity average 93.6 MPH today, although I’m skeptical. That’s 1.7 higher than last year’s 91.9 mark, and also substantially higher than the 92.2 average he’s had in play thus far. It could be a Statcast calibration issue in Lakeland. Regardless, it’s great to see Deivi pitching this well even if it seems like he’s bound for the Alternate Site.
- Jay Bruce hit his second dinger today. He took Spencer Turnbull out to the opposite field in the second frame. He’s had a nice spring thus far as he hopes to take Mike Tauchman’s job.
- The Post’s Joel Sherman wrote about Lucas Luetge, who’s opened some eyes in camp. Apparently, the Yankees have been trying to get the southpaw for a couple of years, enticed by his high spin rate arsenal. Which, by the way, we can now glean from Statcast for spring training. Those numbers are below, but one more thing to relay is that Luetge doesn’t have an opt out until June 1 (barring a KBO or NPB offer). Now, the spin rates:
League averages last year:— Views from 314ft (@ViewsFrom314ft) March 9, 2021
Spin rate is far from everything, but it’s pretty clearly helping Luetge this spring.
- MLB Pipeline released its Top 30 Yankees prospects today. Surprise, surprise: Jasson Dominguez is the team’s top prospect, followed by Clarke Schmidt and the aforementioned García. In case you missed it, Rohan did a nice breakdown of Yankees prospects on various league wide Top 100 lists last week.