Girardi: Hicks, Castro 'excited' to be Yankees

Girardi: Hicks, Castro 'excited' to be Yankees

NEW YORK -- The Yankees continue to look for avenues to build a younger and more athletic roster, believing that they have taken steps in the right direction with the acquisitions of infielder Starlin Castro and outfielder Aaron Hicks.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Wednesday that he has spoken to both players, who are looking forward to fresh starts in pinstripes. Hicks was acquired from the Twins in November, while Castro, a three-time All-Star, was acquired in a trade with the Cubs last week.

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"They've been good. They're excited," Girardi said. "I think when you look at Hicks, he has an opportunity to play a lot just because of the importance of keeping guys fresh. He has the ability to play anywhere, he's extremely athletic -- he's a center fielder by nature, he's a switch-hitter, so it's not a guy that you would necessarily think about pinch-hitting for.

"It's a young man I believe has a lot of talent, and he has a chance to thrive here."

The Yankees are counting on Castro to solidify their second-base production, which has been an issue since Robinson Cano's departure in free agency two offseasons ago. The Cubs saw Castro as expendable after signing free-agent second baseman Ben Zobrist and with the emergence of shortstop Addison Russell.

"It's really a young man who's in the prime of his career -- 25, 26 years old," Girardi said. "I think he can put up some really good numbers here and be really successful here."

Girardi on Yankees' young talent

Castro has only played 38 games at second base -- all at the tail end of last season with Chicago. Girardi said that he will watch to see how Castro handles defensive shifts, but he is confident that he will benefit from a full spring at the position.

"I watched a lot of video of him playing second base. He seems fairly natural over there, so I don't think it will be too big of a problem," Girardi said. "The thing that you worry about the most is turning the double play, because it's different, and you've got to make sure he protects himself."

Yankees acquire Castro from Cubs

Girardi said that he continues to have concern about the health of the starting rotation, and he believes the Yankees will iron out the seventh-inning vacancy created by the trade of left-hander Justin Wilson to the Tigers for two starting pitching prospects.

One name the Yanks will consider is left-hander James Pazos, who fired 11 scoreless innings for the big league team this past season and was listed among the organization's untouchable prospects by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.

"I think he's definitely in the mix -- a power arm," Girardi said. "He finally threw his good slider right at the end. A young man that didn't seem to scare. So I definitely think he's in the mix."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.