Joe Girardi, Yankees ready to move forward after a spring of adversity
For the Bombers, Sunday was what will become a rare day off, something they'll have maybe two dozen of over the next six months. That day came after perhaps the most poignant day of the spring, a trip to West Point to play Army in a game Joe Girardi said was a definite high note to end the exhibition slate on.
"It was a great way to end Spring Training; obviously, we're home in a sense, but to be able to come here and play, I'm so appreciative that we have this opportunity," Girardi said in his media briefing at West Point Saturday. "This is not something that everyone gets to do."
After that final tune-up, which the Yankees won 10-5, team brass had about 24 hours to set their 25-man roster, and they finalized the last spot for first baseman Lyle Overbay on Sunday afternoon by designating injured left-hander Clay Rapada for assignment.
Come Opening Day, Overbay will be one of a handful of players who will get the chance to shine because of injuries to various superstars, and in fact will be one of five players on the 25-man roster who wasn't even a Yankee when camp began back in mid-February.
That Opening Day lineup will be without Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira, all of whom are expected back sometime in the first six-to-eight weeks of the season, but come 1 p.m. Monday, Girardi knows the time for dwelling on the tough spring is over.
"I don't think (about what could have been if not for injuries); it's part of the game, and each game really dictates itself because baseball is a lot different than other sports," Girardi said. "NFL teams may map out the first 20 or 30 plays, but we don't really have plays; I can't map out a handful of defenses like in basketball, or run six different offenses. We have what we have, and each game dictates what moves you make. For example, we have a little bit more speed now, which we probably would have had that anyway, so we'll see where we can use that."
Players like Overbay and Vernon Wells, as well as previous offseason acquisitions like Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis, will be expected to carry a bigger load in April and May until the wounded return - but as Girardi says, there are advantages to the Yankees' situation, up to and including the timing.
"Every year is a challenge, and every team is going to have to go through troubles; sometimes it's in the middle of the year, sometimes it's at the end, and we happen to be going through it at the beginning," Girardi said. "But you don't necessarily have to change your philosophy because of people that you're missing…you just find a way."
After the win at West Point, Girardi wasn't sure if he would get a chance to address his team much before they take the field on Opening Day. However, the skipper says his team knows their mission is clear, because no matter who is in the lineup, the Yankees' mission never changes.
"I expect their best, that's the bottom line. I expect your best, and we expect to win every day, and we prepare to win every day."
Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES