Yankees open spring with 8-3 win over Florida State

02/25/2014 4:11 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Signing autographs wasn't Jameis Winston's only role at Steinbrenner Field Tuesday.(AP)
The New York Yankees opened their spring slate on Tuesday, topping the Florida State University Seminoles 8-3 in an exhibition battle at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

Offensively, the star of the day was starting designated hitter John Ryan Murphy, who went 2-for-2 with two doubles and an RBI and scored the Yankees' second run of the day on what might be the shortest sacrifice fly one will ever see. That came in the third inning off the bat of Gary Sanchez, who hit a foul pop-up with one out and Murphy on third; pitcher Brandon Johnson leaned over the fence to make a great grab on the ball, but with catcher Daniel De La Calle also chasing, the Seminoles left the plate uncovered and Murphy sprinted home.

The Yankees had gotten on the board the previous inning, as Zoilo Almonte and Brendan Ryan stroked back-to-back doubles off FSU righty Peter Miller, and they would make it 5-0 in the fourth thanks to RBI knocks by second baseman Yangervis Solarte and Murphy and a later wild pitch that plated Solarte.

The Seminoles finally broke through in sixth inning against Shane Greene, as pinch-hitter Casey Smit smacked a two-out, bases-loaded double to cut the lead to 5-3. That would be all they would get, though, as Yankees pitchers would allow just one more baserunner the rest of the way.

On the other side, RBI singles by Corban Joseph and Peter O'Brien in the bottom of that sixth pushed the lead back to 7-3, and the Yankees' first homer of the spring, a solo shot by Ramon Flores in the eighth, increased the tally to the eventual final score.

Brett Gardner and Kelly Johnson were the only two projected Opening Day starters to see action for the Yankees, with Gardner playing center field and Johnson third base. Both logged three defensive innings and one at-bat each, with Gardner accruing the first hit of the Yankees' spring by beating out an infield grounder leading off the first inning.

Off the 40-man roster, Brendan Ryan, Zoilo Almonte, Francisco Cervelli and Murphy all joined Gardner and Johnson in the starting lineup, with Sanchez, outfielder Ramon Flores, and infielder Dean Anna all getting some time in the later innings. O'Brien, Joseph, and top prospect Mason Williams were among the notable non-roster invitees to make appearances as well.

On the mound, Vidal Nuno got the start for New York and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. Brian Gordon followed and twice pitched out of trouble en route to a pair of scoreless frames, Greene (2 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 1 BB, 1 K) avoided trouble until the end of that sixth inning, Bryan Mitchell struck out three in two perfect innings, and lefty Francisco Rondon closed the game, allowing the final FSU hit but also fanning two in the ninth.

And as for two-sport star Jameis Winston, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback did indeed play on the same day his football coach, Jimbo Fisher, tossed out the ceremonial first pitch. Winston came in to play left field in the bottom of the fifth and went 0-for-2 at the plate, grounding out to second in the sixth inning and striking out looking against Mitchell in the eighth.

With their first spring test behind them, the Yankees can now focus their energy on the "official" opening of the Grapefruit League schedule on Wednesday; the team will travel to McKechnie Field in Bradenton to battle the Pirates in that opener, with game time set for 1:05 p.m.

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