Yankees split twin bill with exciting introduction from star acquisition

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees had one of the biggest storylines today in Spring Training as not only did they have their home opener, but they also saw the debut of Juan Soto. On the mound would be Carlos Rodon, who has a lot he’s hoping to prove this season, and the team would sport its iconic pinstripes as is tradition for the home opener. It was shaping up to be one of the most highly anticipated Spring Training games in the Yankees’ recent memory, and the game certainly lived up to the hype.

A towering blast from Juan Soto headlines an exciting day for the Yankees, who collected a win in Tampa although they dropped their other contest in Clearwater to the Phillies. There were a lot of debuts and plenty of action in today’s split-squad action for the Bronx Bombers.

Juan Soto Headlines Action-Packed Day for the Yankees

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Feb 25, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees left fielder Juan Soto (22) smiles in the dugout against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Yankees acquired Juan Soto, they weren’t just getting one of the best players in the game, they were also getting a must-watch superstar with plenty of emotion. Already dancing around in the batter’s box, the 25-year-old outfielder would make his mark on the game with a towering blast that hit the scoreboard. A three-run shot to left-center field, it was an impressive display of opposite field power, stamping a 12-6 win for the Yankees at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Another outfielder who made his debut was Alex Verdugo, who ripped a double down the right-field line in his first at-bat with the Yankees. The 27-year-old outfielder was the leadoff hitter for the game, and his double set the tone for the offense. With 12 runs across only eight innings of plate appearances, the Yankees got the scoring started early, putting up two runs in the first inning, and having seven runs on the board by the end of the fourth inning.

Carlos Rodon was impressive in his first outing of the spring, striking out five batters across 2.2 innings and even working himself out of a jam he created after losing the zone in the second inning. His outing would end on a sour note as Alejandro Kirk delivered a solo home run to open the scoring for the Toronto Blue Jays, but he looked much improved in his first tune-up outing. He even worked on a cutter, although it was the pitch thrown to Kirk that left the ballpark.

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees
Feb 25, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Luke Weaver (30) throws a pitch during the fourth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

Another new sight was Luke Weaver’s refined mechanics, simplifying his leg kick and almost mirroring the delivery of Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He tossed two innings with just one hit allowed, using his cutter-fastball-changeup mix and mixing in a couple of curveballs as well. The right-hander is seen as the Yankees’ sixth starter, and he could serve a huge role for the team if someone were to go down before the start of the regular season.

Marcus Stroman would make his Yankees’ debut, and while he struggled in his first start against the Phillies, he was able to finish strong in the third inning and reach his pitch count for the day. The Yankees are hoping he can slot into the middle of their rotation in 2024 and stabilize their starting five, as it looks like they won’t be adding any more pitchers through free agency according to Jack Curry.

Spencer Jones would impress again with two singles and a walk, and he’s had consistently good plate appearances so far, although it’s important to note that it’s a small sample size. Another first-round pick who shined for the Yankees was George Lombard Jr, who hit his first Spring Training home run to drive in the team’s 11th and 12th runs on the day. He also had a walk on the day, and it was an excellent showing for a player who is only 18 years old.

Baseball: Perfect Game All-American Classic
Aug 28, 2022; Phoenix, Arizona, US; East infielder George Lombard (21) during the Perfect Game All-American Classic high school baseball game at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Other standout performers included Edgar Barclay who struck out three batters and tossed 2.2 scoreless innings in their game against the Phillies, getting plenty of whiffs with his changeup-fastball combination. Aaron Judge collected two hits in two trips at the plate with an RBI in his first game in Spring Training as well. Minor League free agent J.C. Escarra collected two hits in four trips and overall it was a positive day for the Yankees.

Juan Soto is a Yankee; those words are something that will resonate with fans throughout the season, and now we get to know what he looks like in pinstripes and get a glimpse of what could be a great 2024 season.

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