New York Yankees: Kyle Higashioka dealing “side soreness”

New York Yankees, Kyle Higashioka

New York Yankees backup catcher Kyle Higashioka was scratched from Tuesday’s Spring Training game with what the team labeled “side soreness”.

“We didn’t want to mess with anything too much,” Yankees skipper Aaron Boone said.

Although this seems to be nothing serious, this could potentially be an interesting test of the Yankees catching depth. Higashioka has had some oblique issues in the past, so it’s definitely something to watch for.

Robinson Chirinos, who was expected to contend for the back-up catcher spot, is headed to the IL with a wrist injury. Chirinos fractured his wrist when he was hit by a pitch and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.

Along with Higashioka and Chirinos, Adam Warren (shoulder), Miguel Andujar (hand/wrist), Zack Britton (elbow), and Clarke Schmidt (elbow) are all dealing with injuries.

If Higashioka were to head to the IL, it would take him out of contention for a spot on the Opening Day roster. In that case, the Yankees would likely turn to Rob Brantly, who’s put together a nice Spring Training. He’s gotten hits in three of seven at-bats; two of which were home runs. Brantley has driven in five and has an OPS of 1.786.

Right now, Higashioka doesn’t have a return timeline, but Aaron Boone said that he felt fine. If for some reason Higashioka isn’t okay by Opening Day, the Yankees have Brantly and starting catcher Gary Sanchez to fill the void. Fortunately, things don’t seem to be too serious for Higashioka, and he should be back in the Spring Training lineup soon.


New York Yankees Recap: Yankees beat the Tigers 4-2, but it wasn’t pretty

New York Yankees, Rob Brantly

The New York Yankees took a short bus ride northeast to Lakeland, Florida, to play the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. The game was played under partly cloudy skies but with a nice 80-degree game-time temperature. The Yankee starter was Jameson Taillon in his second start of the season. He faced Julio Teheran of the Tigers. The Yankees again used their “B” lineup, which uncharacteristically had more lefties than righties. The Yankees won the game 4-2. It was a tedious game to watch as the Yankee pitching was subpar, to say the least.

Teheran faced Brett Gardner leading off for the Yankees. Gardner was in my “Spotlight” article for having the Yankee’s highest OPS (on-base percentage + slugging). In his first at-bat today, he gound out. Gary Sanchez struck out, and Jay Bruce singled to left. Clint Frazier finished off the half by striking out. Taillon first faced Robbie Grossman, and he walked. Candelario flew out, Castro ground into a force-out, and Cabrera flew out for the last out of the inning. No score.

At the second, Darren Dietrich moved to first after being hit by a pitch. Kyle Higashioka singled, moving Dietrich to second. Mike Tauchman singled, loading the bases with Yankees with no outs. Thairo Estrada grounded into a forceout, Dietrich caught at home plate.  Tyler Wade had a sac fly out, allowing Higgy to score, Brett, singled, and Tauchman scored. Gary Sanchez ground out to end the half, but the Yankees got on the board. Taillon, in his second inning of work he got Goodrum to strikeout. Ramos doubled, Paredes flew out, Reyes walked, and Jones struck out. Yankees 2 Tigers 0.

Jay Bruce led off for the Yankees at the top of the third by walking. Clint Frazier grounded into a double play, two outs. Dietrich struck out to end the half. Taillon out for the third walked Grossman. Candelario singled, two on no outs. Castro struck out, Cabrera reached on a Jay Bruce throwing error loading the bases. Goodrum struck out. The Yankees took Taillon out of the game, replacing him with Addison Russ, who got Ramos to ground out and allow the Yankees to get out of the inning, giving up no runs.  Yankees 2 Tigers 0.

At the top of the fourth, Higgy faced Jose Urena and ground out. Tauchman lined out, and Estrada flew for a quick inning for Urena. Nick Goody was out for the Yankees in the bottom of the frame. Paredes ground out, Reyes flew out, and Jones ground out for an easy inning for Goody. Yankees 2 Tigers 0.

Tyler Wade led off the fifth, striking out swinging. Brett Gardner ground out, and Gary Sanchez ground out, giving Urena his second 1-2-3 inning. Albert Abreu replaced Goody in the bottom. Grossman flew out, Candelario doubled, Nunez pinch-running. Castro singled driving in a Nunez. Goodrum ended the inning, but the Tigers got on the board. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Urena on the mound again. Jay Bruce ground out, Frazier flew out, and Dietrich flew out, giving Urena his third 1-2-3 inning in a row in quite a pitching display. Kyle Barraclough on the mound for the New York Yankees. Ramos flew out, Paredes walked, Greene walked, Baddoo walks, as Barraclough walked the bases full. Haase struck out, and Nunez ground out, allowing Barraclough to get out of an incredible jam. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Derek Holland started the seventh. Higashioka struck out swinging, Tauchman struck out swinging, Estrada closed out the half. Nestor Cortes Jr. took on the pitching in the bottom of the frame. Castro flew out, Cameron struck out, and Torkelson was called out on strikes. Yankees 2 Tigers 1.

Hoy Jun Park led off for the Yankees; he struck out, getting 3 balls then 3 strikes in a row. Amburgey walked, Rob Brantly homered in two runs for the Yankees. Gittens walked, Michael Beltre hit into a double play, but the Yankees tacked on 2 more runs. Tyler Lyons handled the bottom of the eighth. Rogers singled, Clemens struck out, Greene ground out, and Baddoo ground out to end the inning. Yankees 4 Tigers 1.

Ezequiel Duran singled in the ninth. Austin Wells grounded out but Duran moved to second. Thomas Milone struck out swinging, and Armando Alvarez followed with a strikeout. With last licks on the line, the Tigers took to the bottom of the ninth with Brooks Kriske on the mound, trying to close it out for the New York Yankees. Haase walked as Kriske was all over the place. Then he hit Nunez with a pitch. Two on no outs. Castro doubled driving in Haase. Cameron struck out, two outs. Torkelson flew out to end the game Yankees 4 Tigers 2.

The Yankee starter Jameson Taillon from the start did not have good control of his pitches; he had as many balls as strikes. However, he got out of the game without giving up a run. He only gave up two hits, but he walked three batters. Albert Abreu had his second poor outing. He has now given up six runs in 2.2 innings on the mound. His ERA is now 27.00. Barraclough walked the bases full. All in all, the Yankee’s pitching was not up to par. The photo accompanying the article is Rob Brantly who homered and drove in two runs for the Yankees.

The standout in the game was the Tiger pitcher Jose Urena who had three 1-2-3 innings in a row.




BREAKING: New York Yankees Acquire C Rob Brantly

New York Yankees, Rob Brantly

The New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants have struck a small deal for journeyman catcher Rob Brantly. He was picked 100th overall in the MLB 2010 draft by the Tigers. In his MLB career so far, he’s spent time with the White Sox, Marlins, Phillies, and Giants. He was added to the Yankees’ 60 man roster and was sent to their alternative site.

Adding Catching Depth

While Gary Sanchez and Erik Kratz have held the fort down, for doubleheaders, if there are any prominent injuries, it makes sense to have a 4th in-house option. In his career, Brantly has a 72 wRC+ and -2.2 fWAR, so while he hasn’t had a very successful career, the Yankees still need the depth. He’s also the only left-handed hitting catcher on this MLB roster, so he can perhaps find some success in an MLB friendly park. He has shown signs of being able to hit in the minor leagues, as in his last AAA stint, he had an above .400 OBP.

So far, in 2020, Brantly has only one game played where he went 0-3.

Classic Sneaky Solid Move

This move doesn’t catch your eye and doesn’t blow you away, but it does work as a sound baseball move. You give up small cash considerations and get a 3rd catcher as Higashioka has been hurt. It makes sense, and it’s a position that just needs guys to play as depth. I don’t expect Brantly to be a mainstay in the lineup, but I do expect him to be waiting in the wing if the injury bug strikes again. This is just Cashman making sure he has guys to bring up if there’s an emergency.

People may not appreciate the move, but it’s a logical move. Welcome to the Bronx Rob Brantly, we hope to see you do well in pinstripes!