Grapefruit League Game 21: Yankees vs. Rays
- Happy St. Patrick’s Day from George M. Steinbrenner Field. Brett Gardner moves into the leadoff spot tonight as Joe Girardi continues to play with ideas of how to stack his lineup for the regular season. Gardner led the Yankees in on-base percentage last year and fits the bill for what they want from a leadoff hitter. “Obviously you want a guy that gets on all the time and has the ability to score runs in a lot of different ways,” Girardi said.
- Of course, they’re not ready to commit to this just yet. Derek Jeter is still expected to hit at the top of the order, so the two-hole could work for him, but they also are in no hurry to bump Nick Swisher out of the No. 2 spot. Girardi did say he believes Swisher is one of several versatile Yankees who can hit anywhere needed in the order. Girardi said the Yankees have eight or nine more games in which they can toy with it.
- Rafael Soriano threw 21 pitches in a Minor League game on Thursday but said he did not feel like his fastball and slider were up to snuff. He next expects to pitch Sunday at Philadelphia.
- Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte is here tonight as a backup in case they need him.
- Injury updates – Sergio Mitre (oblique) will pitch tomorrow in relief against the Blue Jays. Joba Chamberlain (oblique) threw a light side session today on flat ground.
- Leonel Vinas, the right-hander signed from Hank Steinbrenner’s “Hank’s Yanks” youth team, debuted today. He threw a scoreless inning with a strikeout for Class-A Charleston against Class-A Tampa.
- There are 14 days until Opening Day.