Thursday, March 10, 2016
Posted by el duque at 7:07 AM
For starters, Brett Gardner still hasn't taken one pitch, due to a "bone bruise" inflicted last October, back when the idea of Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination was a late night punch line. In Gardy's rare 100 percent healthy moments, we love the man. But don't we fear the banjo-hitting mediocrity he becomes at 75 percent? Add the universal certainty that Jacoby Ellsbury is a break, a strain, a tweak or a tear waiting to flare up - and that leaves Carlos Beltran patrolling RF with less mobility than the statue of George Steinbrenner - and thus, the need for OF depth has never cried more loudly.
So... let's listen together... shhhh...
Right now, Aaron Hicks - "the Small Aaron" - is the Yankee OF firewall. Yesterday, he went 1-3 with a double. He switch hits and plays CF. Last year - his third shot at the Twins - Hicks seemed to finally figure out MLB pitching: He hit .256 with 11 HR. Cashman traded for him, and - thus, the franchise is invested in him. Let's hope.
Behind Hicks, it's been ugly. Slade Heathcott is having a terrible spring. He is 0-10 with six strikeouts. His lone positive molecule of play came in Game 2, when he drew a walk. Heathcott is one of the most intriguing Yankees, with a rare unknown ceiling. But unless he breaks out, he's ticketed for Year II in Scranton, at age 25. Last year, he hit .267 with 2 HRs down there. Time is running out.
Joining him in Scranton will be Mason Williams, the roller coaster ride who is still healing from a shoulder injury from last year - so he's out - and Ben Gamel, another Scrantonian who hit his way onto the Yankee roster. Gamel, thus far, is 2-7 on the spring, both singles.
Of course, the guy we all wanted to tear up Tampa is "the Big Aaron" - Aaron Judge, who hit a three-run HR last week to win a game. Unfortunately, he is now 1-10 with six strikeouts. Let's face it: His Scranton ticket is punched. The Yankees viewed him as a player who needs to play every day. One for 10 means he's done.
There are others - most notably a 26-year-old scrap heap acquisition named Lane Adams, who is 3-7 with 2 RBIs and a stolen base. He bats RH, which gives him a better shot. But hey - if we're down to Adams, it means injuries have reduced us to stems and seeds, and that was not supposed to be the case - at least not this early.
Of course, that's the good part: It is this early. We're in the phase of spring training when Zolio Almonte used to turn heads. If Heathcott goes 3-3 tomorrow, who cares about his first few games? On the 10th of March, Julius Caesar was still kicking, and so is Heathcott. Just don't say the omens were not there.