New York Yankees report to spring training and Astros lose pitcher Martes to one-year suspension

New York Yankees, Albert Abreu

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Yesterday New York Yankee players reported to spring camp at the training complex at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. They joined Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Luke Voit, and Miguel Andujar,  all of which arrived early for an early start on spring training.  Their first training workouts will be today under the warm Florida sun.  They will do stretching exercises and make fundamental plays to sharpen their skills for the first Yankee spring training game that will be this coming Saturday, February 22nd, at home at 1 pm in the park named after former Yankee owner George “the boss” Steinbrenner.  Their first game will be against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Pitchers and catchers:

Pitchers and catchers reported this past Wednesday; their workout began on Thursday with all eyes, including the media on offseason acquisition  Gerrit Cole.  Cole did not disappoint even given a pitcher clinic after this first pitch as a Yankee.  J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka threw live batting practice today. However, their first pitches didn’t draw the attention that Gerrit Cole did they will still provide the much-needed depth,  The staring rotation will be Gerrit Cole at the top of the rotation the will feature Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, mostly likely rounding up that rotation will be Jordan Montgomery.  James Paxton underwent back surgery and won’t return to the rotation until June.  Domingo German, who is out on suspension for breaking the domestic violence rule of the MLB, will be back after the remain 63 games of his suspension have been completed.  German was 18-4 last year before his suspension and will probably take his place as the number three or four starter in the rotation.  On Monday, Happ threw a total of 28 pitches in two innings and Tanaka 20 in one frame.

The bullpen is solid with Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, and Chad Green.  Green, who was a starter in several games, will be backed up in the bullpen by Luis Cessa,  Ben Heller, and Jonathan Loaisiga.  Anchoring the entire bullpen is Yankee closer Aroldis Chapman who was the first time winner of the Reliever of the Year Award.  Chapman, 31, pitched to a 2.21 ERA over 57 innings, striking out 85. He saved 37 games and made his second straight All-Star team and sixth overall.

Yankee players report:

With player workout scheduled to start tomorrow,  Mike Ford and Luke Voit will be competing for the starting position at first base with Luke Voit expected to get it unless he underperforms during spring training.  Ford, while replacing Voit last year, hit 12 home runs in just 50 games. Second base is solid with 2019 Silver Slugger DJ LeMahieu and the “machine” hitter in his position.   Gleyber Torres will be practicing hard to show that he can replace shortstop Didi Gregorius that signed with the Phillies during the offseason when the Yankees failed to take up his option.  Third base is Gio Urshela’s to lose after his breakout season last year.  Gary Sanchez will be the backstop while his backup will Kyle Higashioka will most likely be backup after the loss of Austin Romine to the Tigers. However, Kratz, Iannetta, and Thole with also be competing for the position.

In the outfield, Aaron Judge has the right field nailed down with his excellent play. With the injured Aaron Hicks out until sometime around that All-Star break, Brett Gardner will be capability handling the center field.  Giancarlo Stanton will handle the left-field spot; unless he is DH’ing, in that case, Mike Tauchman will be charged with defense in left.  In 87 games, Tauchman batted .277 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs.

Interviewed yesterday, he said:

“I am grateful for the opportunity I got.’’ “Our team dealt with significant injuries last year. We won a lot of games [103], but at the same time, it is the New York Yankees, and [we are] expected to win a championship.’’

Miguel Andujar will be tested to play three different positions, his traditional 3rd base, first base and in the outfield.  On Monday, he took fly balls in the outfield of Field 3 with Aaron Judge.  With Andujar’s powerful bat, they will want him in the lineup.  He may alternate with Giancarlo Stanton as the DH.

Referring to Miggy: 

“We will get him out there in a lot of different situations and positions but also being mindful of the demands that creates.’’

Astros fifth starter suspended for one year testing positive for PED’S

As if the Astros need any more problems as they report to spring training, Major League Baseball announced today the Astros starter, Francis Martes, is to be suspended for 162 games and will miss the entire 2020 season.  The punishment was harsh as it’s Martes’s second positive test for PED’s.  Martes will also not be paid during his suspension.  He tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Boldenone.

The Players Association issued a statement on the suspension:

“Throughout our system, players are educated through MLB’s drug prevention and treatment programs,” the Astros said in a statement. “We hope that Francis will learn from this experience moving forward.”  With the Astros cheating scandal, this is just what they needed that will certainly not help their reputation as cheaters.

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