Rotation stars take it slow as Girardi sets early matchups
Eovaldi lone staff hopeful to start in first three games with no live BP yet for CC, Tanaka
By Barry M. Bloom
TAMPA, Fla. -- It's nothing earthshattering, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi named two relievers and a prospective member of the rotation to start his club's first three Grapefruit League games: Adam Warren, Nathan Eovaldi and Esmil Rogers.
Warren is slated to start the Grapefruit League opener on Tuesday against the Phillies in nearby Clearwater, Fla., Eovaldi in the home opener here at Steinbrenner Field, also against the Phillies on Wednesday, and Rogers in Bradenton vs. the Pirates on Thursday.
"As you get to a certain point, you've got to make a decision where guys are going to fall into line," Girardi said after the workout on Sunday. "And it's pretty normal that sometimes the bullpen guys or guys vying for a spot are a little ahead."
Girardi said he wasn't sure when Sabathia, Tanaka and Pineda would be spaced in, but it's clear there is no rush. All three missed significant time with injuries last season as the Yankees finished with 84 wins, four games behind the 88-victory A's, who captured the second American League Wild Card slot.
All three need to significantly contribute if the Yanks hope to make the postseason for the first time since 2012, let alone win the World Series for the first time since 2009.
Sabathia was limited to eight starts because of a right knee injury and is expecting to wear a brace on it this season. Tanaka missed most of the second half of the season with a torn tendon in his right elbow. And Pineda missed almost four months because of inflammation and a strained muscle in his problematic right shoulder. They combined to make 41 starts and win 21 games, 13 of them by Tanaka.
Neither Sabathia nor Tanaka has thrown live BP yet, which made Girardi ecstatic about Pineda's 20-pitch outing on Sunday.
"Oh, I think you can see the ability there, definitely," said Girardi about Pineda, who missed his first two full seasons with the Yankees after labrum surgery on that right shoulder. "I was excited about what I saw today as I watched him throw his BP session. It was really, really good. You get excited when you think about sending him out there every day and getting 30-to-32 starts from him, what he could possibly do for your team."