While the biggest story from the weekend is undoubtedly the long-term absence of slugger Curtis Granderson, courtesy of a first-inning beaning yesterday afternoon by Toronto Blue Jays left hander J.A. Happ, the Yankees came away 1-1 as Grapefruit League play opened.
The spring training slate opened up in Orlando, Florida, as the Yankees paid a visit to the Atlanta Braves Saturday afternoon. While the biggest names who made their 2013 debuts were second baseman Robinson Cano and first baseman Mark Teixeira, thanks in large part to their quick turnaround with the upcoming World Baseball Classic, the Yankees won the opener 8-3. In addition to an opposite field solo home-run by Cano, highly-touted outfielder Zoilo Almonte blasted a two-run homer of his own.
Additionally, catcher Austin Romine, who's expected to take part in the spring-long competition for the starting catcher role, made a strong case for himself with two RBIs, while Teixeira contributed one of his own. Right-hander David Phelps, who will be in a spring-long battle for the fifth spot in the rotation, garnered the win, going two innings and giving up three hits and zero runs. Outfielders Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, both competing for right-handed roles on the Yankees big club's bench, also saw action.
Yesterday afternoon, in the first YES Network telecast of the season, and in the first game of the spring at Steinbrenner Field, the Yankees fell short against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays. In a quiet 2-0 defeat, Yankees manager Joe Girardi played a majority of his expected 2013 regulars, as third baseman Kevin Youkilis and designated hitter Travis Hafner made their Yankees debuts.
While Youkilis had a quiet afternoon, going 0-3 at the dish, Hafner went 1-2 with a double. Cano, Teixeira, center fielder Brett Gardner, and right fielder Ichiro Suzuki all were 1-3 respectively on their afternoons.
Young right-hander Adam Warren drew the start for the Yankees and was solid in two innings of works, striking out two and giving up zero hits and zero runs in his brief outing. Reliever Cody Eppley took the loss.
As the Yankees enter a new week down in Tampa, the talk will be how the Yankees look to replace the production of Granderson. While the best in-house candidates appear to be Diaz and Rivera, to see them replicating the 40-plus home-run production of Granderson is, without question, a far reach. However, the best case scenario appears to be a Granderson return in May.
Moreover, if Yankees general manager Brian Cashman wants to look outside the current ballclub to try and replace Granderson's production, one sensible option could be former Yankee and current Chicago Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, whom Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com reports would be open to a trade to the Bronx.
A month ago, Yankees 101 made the case to explore the trade, and while the finances of it make sense as the Cubs would be willing to eat the bulk of the remaining two years on his current deal, it would really come down to if the Yankees could avoid having to surrender a high-quality prospect.
The Yankees are back in action this afternoon as they head to Sarasota for a 1:05 first pitch against the Baltimore Orioles.
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