On Tuesday morning, as pitchers and catchers begun to assemble in Tampa for the commencement of spring training, Yankees manager Joe Girardi conducted his annual "State of the Yankees" address with the media. As reported by Lou DiPietro of YESNetwork.com, Girardi addressed all prominent offseason fodder, from the expectations of third baseman Alex Rodriguez to his own status as manager beyond 2013.
With his expected long-term absence recovering from major hip surgery, Girardi confirmed that this offseason's biggest lightning rod, Rodriguez, will not be making the trip down to Tampa,
"He will continue to rehab in New York; he's not ready to do anything with us from a baseball standpoint,” Girardi said of A-Rod, who is slated to be out until at least July while recovering from hip surgery. “There’s not a lot he can do here.”
Moreover, with new-found performance-enhancing drug allegations, Rodriguez is better off keeping any distractions away from the current Yankees as he continues his rehab privately up in New York. As expected, Girardi steered clear of commenting on the allegations and reiterated his main goal for Rodriguez is for him to get healthy.
Staying on the theme of players getting healthy, Girardi expressed confidence in his two most decorated Yankees, closer Mariano Rivera and shortstop Derek Jeter, being able to get back into live action and continuing their already-brilliant careers. Both are coming off of the most significant setbacks of their career, however both have progressed diligently and with high optimism.
A pair of strategic questions were also addressed with the proposed position swap between center fielder Curtis Granderson and left fielder Brett Gardner, a move Granderson recently proclaimed he'd be open too,
“As of today, no,” Girardi said when asked if he had plans to try the switch this spring, “(but) it's something that could be talked about. … If it’s worth exploring, we’ll try it early and see what happens.”
Girardi, in another strategic inquiry, also addressed the catcher position, a position with under whelming options (as of now) following the departure of free agent Russell Martin to the Pittsburgh Pirates. As noted by Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, while Chris Stewart and specifically, Francisco Cervelli, are in the drivers' seat to lock down the starting role, the younger Austin Romine could also be in the fold.
While it will be tough to speculate how any variation of those three will replace the 21 home-runs of Martin offensively from a year ago, Girardi believes any of the three can adequately fill the role defensively,
“It's hard to quantify how many runs a catcher can save. I believe we have two catchers that can do a lot of that, the two that we take will save a lot of runs for us. Those are RBIs in my mind. Those are the types of catchers we're probably going to have this year."
Finally, while Girardi avoided delving into what is the final year of his contract and his future as Yankees skipper past 2013, he praised the currently constructed roster and gave his projection for 2013. Additionally, he alleviated any concerns those might have about the currently projected oldest lineup in baseball,
“This team could win 95 games and get to the World Series. There’s a lot of character in this room,” Girardi said, and in closing, he eschewed the age concerns surrounding the team in favor of praising experience. I love the people we brought back because I know they're tested.“
Today was simply a "homework" day in Tampa, as players underwent physicals and took care of all the back-end material. The team begins official workouts tomorrow.
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