Even before Major League Baseball began postponing the start of spring training Friday, players were briefly gearing up to get ready for the regular season due to the ongoing shutdown.
“We’re just getting started where we can,” Luke Voight said last week. “It’s a little more difficult not to be able to use [team] facility, but we don’t want to be too far behind when we start.”
Now that the MLB has postponed the start of the spring training games to March 5 at the earliest — putting the scheduled March 31 opening day in serious jeopardy — the short spring training is almost certain.
Whether it’s four or five weeks, instead of the usual six, fewer Grapefruit League matches will affect the Yankees in a number of ways.
Players returning from injuries
Luis Severino is healthy and said he’s been throwing bowl games, but since he’s aiming to show a full season for the first time since 2018, the right-hander will undoubtedly benefit from full spring training after throwing just 7 rounds. Last year, including postseason.
Aaron Hicks, who has been sidelined with multiple injuries since signing the extension before the 2019 season, sustained a wrist injury that cost him most of 2021. Over the past three seasons, Hicks has featured in a total of just 145 regular players. Season matches.
He’s been healthy enough to play dozens of games in the Dominican Winter League this season in an effort to eliminate some of the rust, but could use more rackets this spring.
Players try to build value
Voit is the first real key man on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, but he came off an injury-ridden year, during which he was replaced by Anthony Rizzo, who is now a free agent. The Yankees are in the market for a first baseman, whether it’s by signing like Rizzo or Freddie Freeman, or a deal for someone, like Athletics’ Matt Olson.
Perhaps Voit could play its way into the conversation or become a more valuable business segment, as it is set to earn about $5.4 million in arbitration and lead major homers in 2020.
Players try to win a place
The Yankees only made one free-agent deal before closing, and brought Joely Rodriguez back to the Bullpen. But they have added some small free agents, including Ender Inciarte, who usually tries to show his value as a back-up defensive player over the course of a regular spring term. Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt are among the bowlers looking to return from their challenging 2021 seasons, and their way to the back end of the course can be conceivable, especially with Jameson Tywin returning from ankle surgery.
After struggling at a Shortstop game last season, Gleyber Torres returned to second base at the end of the year and looked a lot better. As the search for a new short path continues, the midfield will need to build up chemistry quickly.