Yankees Pre-Game Notes: March 11
That game comes against the visiting St. Louis Cardinals, and you can watch Hiroki Kuroda make his third total and second “official” spring start live on YES at 1 p.m. It’s a bit of an interesting lineup behind Kuroda today, at least among the infielders, as Kevin Youkilis is slated to start at first base today with Ronnier Mustelier getting the start at third.
Youk makes his first start at the scene of his lone career Gold Glove, something Joe Girardi said we would see a few times this spring; however, with Mustelier hitting a robust .353 in 10 Grapefruit games and saying he’s confident in his oft-questioned defensive ability, this combo may end up being the one that takes the big field in the Bronx on April 1.
With Mustelier at third, Corban Joseph, who has seen a lot of time at the hot corner this spring, is back at his “natural” second base spot, and Derek Jeter is in the lineup once again as the designated hitter.
The rest of the lineup behind Kuroda:
Brett Gardner LF
Derek Jeter DH
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C
Corban Joseph 2B
Ronnier Mustelier 3B
Slade Heathcott CF
They’ll be facing righty Lance Lynn, who won 18 games for the Cards last summer but has been hit hard in two starts so far this spring. He’ll be backed by a St. Louis lineup that features only a couple of projected Opening Day starters and one familiar face: outfielder Justin Christian, who spent seven total years with the Yankees organization and played in 17 games for the big league Bombers in 2008.
As for the rest of the Yankees, Matt Diaz, Zoilo Almonte, and Travis Hafner (as the DH) are among the reserves slated for some innings, and there is a star-studded group set to pitch behind Kuroda; David Robertson, who has missed about a week due to shoulder stiffness, is scheduled to be back in action, with Joba Chamberlain, Cody Eppley, Shawn Kelley also set to go. The other available pitchers include top prospect Dellin Betances, who has continued to have trouble harnessing his control this spring, and lefty Francisco Rondon, a 40-man rosteree who has looked impressive in seven Grapefruit innings.
One other quick note looking ahead to Tuesday: infielders Gil Velazquez and Walter Ibarra, who played with Team Mexico in the WBC, are back with the Yankees and are listed on the roster set to travel to Port Charlotte to face the Rays tomorrow. Mustelier and Juan Rivera, who went 3-for-4 on Sunday, are on there as well, but are listed as outfielders; that doesn't mean they're outfielders for sure, but with the quartet that has seen most of the rest of the time at the two corners lately (Addison Maruszak, Luke Murton, Dan Johnson and Corban Joseph) all also on the travel roster as of now, it is an interesting sidebar.
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES
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