Yankees invite 44 players to Spring Training

As they do around this time every year, the Yankees have unveiled their big list of Spring Training invitees. Some of these names – Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera, Bobby Wilson, Dan Johnson and others – have leaked out previously, but now we have the complete rundown. They’ll have a staggering 84 players scheduled to report to camp, so there will be no shortage of dark horse roster candidates just hoping to open some eyes.

(For those of you with eagle eyes, the press release states they’ve invited six catchers and nine infielders. Technically, Greg Bird – listed as an infielder – is the sixth catcher.)

The press release from the Yankees follows:

The New York Yankees today announced that they have signed five players to minor league contracts with an invitation to Major League Spring Training: OF Matt Diaz, INF Dan Johnson, OF Thomas Neal, OF Juan Rivera and C Bobby Wilson. The club has also invited 39 additional players to 2013 Spring Training, bringing the total number of invitees to 44 (20 pitchers, six catchers, nine infielders and nine outfielders). The total number of players now scheduled to report is 84 – 17 more than 2012’s total of 67.

The list of invites includes Yankees first-round draft picks OF Slade Heathcott (2009) and SS Cito Culver (2010), and 2012 South Atlantic League All-Stars OF Tyler Austin and C Gary Sanchez.

Diaz, who turns 35 on March 3, is a career .291 (543-for-1,863) batter with 211 runs, 97 doubles, 14 triples, 45 home runs and 225 RBI in 726 games over 10 seasons with Tampa Bay (2003-04), Kansas City (2005), Atlanta (2006-12) and Pittsburgh (2011). He is a career .324 (306-for-945) batter with 31 home runs against left-handed pitchers, and has appeared defensively at all three outfield position. Diaz grew up in Lakeland, Fla., played baseball at Florida State University and was selected by Tampa Bay in the 17th round of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft. His last name is pronounced Dye-ez.

Johnson, 33, has appeared in 413 combined Major League games over parts of seven seasons with Oakland (2005-08), Tampa Bay (2008, ’10-11) and Chicago-AL (2012), batting .237 (313-for-1,320) with 59 doubles, 56 home runs and 194 RBI. He also played a season in Japan in 2009 with Yokohama. He spent most of the 2012 season with Triple-A Charlotte (.267, 127-for-476, 28 home runs), before appearing in 14 games with the White Sox as a September call-up (.364, 8-for-22). He hit three homers in the team’s regular season finale at Cleveland. He was originally selected by Oakland in the seventh round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.

Neal, 25, made his Major League debut in 2012 with the Cleveland Indians, going 5-for-23 (.217) in nine games. He spent the majority of the season with Double-A Akron, batting .314 (127-for-405) with 77 runs, 24 doubles, 12 home runs and 51RBI in 117 games for the Eastern League champions. Among Eastern League leaders, he ranked third in on-base percentage (.400), fourth in batting average and tied for fifth in runs, appearing in games at all three outfield positions. Neal was originally selected by San Francisco in the 36th round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, and acquired by Cleveland on 7/30/11.

Rivera, 34, batted .244 (76-for-312) with 14 doubles, nine home runs and 47 RBI in 109 games with the Dodgers in 2012. He made 30 starts in left field, 39 at first base, five in right field and one at DH. Originally signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 1996, Rivera appeared in 88 games with the Yankees over parts of three seasons (2001-03), hitting .262 (68-for-260) with eight home runs. He has collected 67 outfield assists in his career, tying for 12th-most among active players in the Majors since his debut in 2001.

Wilson, 29, has spent his entire career in the Angels organization, after being selected by the Angels in the 48th round of the 2002 First-Year Player Draft out of St. Petersburg College. He hit .211 (36-for-171) with five doubles, three home runs and 13 RBI in 75 games in 2012 with the Angels, and caught 15-of-60 stolen base attempts (25.0%) – the seventh-highest percentage among AL catchers. A native of Dunedin, Fla., Wilson is a career .208 (81-for-389) batter in 191 Major League games with a .994 fielding percentage behind the plate, and catching 23.0% of potential base stealers (29-of-126).

2013 SPRING INVITEES
OF Abraham Almonte
C Francisco Arcia
OF Tyler Austin
INF Greg Bird
RHP Corey Black
LHP Juan Cedeno
RHP Preston Claiborne
INF Cito Culver
RHP Matt Daley
OF Matt Diaz
OF Adonis Garcia
RHP Shane Greene
RHP Nick Goody
OF Slade Heathcott
RHP David Herndon
C Kyle Higashioka
INF Walter Ibarra
INF Dan Johnson
RHP Tom Kahnle
INF Addison Maruszak
RHP Jim Miller
RHP Bryan Mitchell
RHP Mark Montgomery
INF Luke Murton
OF Ronnier Mustelier
C J.R. Murphy
OF Thomas Neal
INF Jayson Nix
RHP Zach Nuding
LHP Vidal Nuno
RHP Mike O’Brien
RHP Kelvin Perez
RHP Branden Pinder
INF Jose Pirela
RHP Ryan Pope
OF Juan Rivera
INF Kyle Roller
C Gary Sanchez
OF Rob Segedin
LHP Josh Spence
LHP Matt Tracy
INF Gil Velazquez
RHP Chase Whitley
C Bobby Wilson

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