Sunday Q&A with Yankees GM Brian Cashman

Yankees GM addressed media before club's game vs. Braves
03/16/2014 2:39 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Brian Cashman addressed the media on Sunday.(AP)
TAMPA, Fla. - New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman chatted with the beat for about 15 minutes Sunday morning, meeting in the clubhouse after word broke of Jacoby Ellsbury's removal from the lineup with a tight right calf.

Cashman addressed several topics, from Ellsbury to Sunday's starter Masahiro Tanaka to spring competition, and below is a transcript of the GM's chat with the media.

Cashman on Ellsbury's calf: "It doesn't sound like its much, but thankfully, it's March, so we can make sure it's not going to be much. He just said when he got over here today he started feeling it, so he reported it to the trainers for some treatment. A, he was good for informing the trainer, and B, the trainer was good for reacting to it. In March, tightness, you react bigger than anything else, so we'll just make sure we'll give it some time. We'll make sure we take care of this, and if it takes a few days or a week, so be it."

On any long-term ramifications from the issue: "I really just take it as a tight calf in spring training, and because he is an important player, you back off. You want to have as many players as possible available to you when the bell rings and games count; since these games don't count, we want to make sure that nothing is added."

On Ellsbury's legs being a big part of his game: "It's a fair point that I didn't think about, the only thing I thought about was that it's March and it's a tight calf, so back off. We talk to the player, and tell him we're going to back off whether you want to or not. He wanted to play today, but Thomps (acting manager Rob Thomson) and the trainer did the right thing, and (Ellsbury) understands that. Tightness is tightness and that's fine, but I'm not going to assume it's good tomorrow."

On whether or not Ellsbury will have an MRI: "Nothing is scheduled, (it will happen) only when and if someone in the medical field feels it's important. If it's something we feel we need to do, we'll tell you."

On Masahiro Tanaka facing the Braves' regulars Sunday: "I'm anxious for him to get his work in. Like Ellsbury, we're still in spring training mode, so I know he's working on things and you want as many good feelings after (starts) as possible; (Vidal) Nuno pitched well for us yesterday in Sarasota, and I talked to Joe (Girardi) and he said (Adam) Warren pitched well for us in Panama. Whatever the results are, I'm just looking forward to seeing how he feels and what his stuff looks like. He's doing his work, and today he's going to do more. It just happens to be another day in camp and he's the starter."

On making Tanaka's transition smooth: "He seems like he's made it; it doesn't mean that he won't have to deal with things like travel when the season starts, but he's really made it. It seems like our worries about how we transitioned him, he's just made it seem like it's almost more of an issue for us. It's different for him, 162 games in 183 days and a five-man rotation and all that, but those are adjustments he'll have to deal with. We've been surprised with how he's hit the ground running and made this much lesser of an issue than we expected."

On why the Yankees feel that way: "Everything he's handled with ease, as if he's done it before. He feels like he's been a part of this organization for more than the six or eight weeks it's been. (Hideki) Matsui was like that too; he's just fit in since day one. It's been a welcome addition, clearly, and he's made it as easy for us as we've tried to make it for him."

On crunch time and starting to evaluate roster decisions: "It depends on who the guys are and the positions. Veteran guys you don't worry about so much, they know what they need to do to prepare, but certain guys who are trying to make the team are in full-bore competition mode. Spring training is so individual; a guy coming back from injury like (Mark Teixeira), he's a pro and he knows what he has to do to handle his business, but one of these new guys coming in here trying to win one of these vacancies, those are the guys who are focusing more on how they're going about their business."

On who has caught his eye: "Individually, I think it's not fair to spotlight anyone because everyone collectively has been doing a good job. This has been a good camp; everybody came in good shape and has seemed to represent themselves well, so even the young guys who aren't even going to make the team seem like they're trying to say to us, 'hey, look at me, I've got something you want to pay attention to."

On Michael Pineda: "His first outing was really impressive, the command of his stuff and the stuff itself. The second outing, the stuff was still impressive even if command was off, but the results were still the results. I thought we saw the natural cutter show up there a lot, so he was pulling people off the ball. Both outings you feel good about given where he was, but it's only two outings and five innings so it's not much to talk about, but he feels good, and his stuff looks good. That makes us feel good. He's just knocking the rust out, and it's exciting to think that at some point we'll be seeing a guy who can help us on the major-league level. Obviously we know what he was before the injury, and he's making us believe we have a chance to get back to seeing that again."

On his expectations for Pineda: "I didn't know what to expect, to be honest. I've just been very happy with what we've seen, and more importantly, his smile tells you how he's feeling about himself. That goes a lot farther than what I'm seeing, and when someone with his type of ability feels good about what he's doing, obviously it says a lot."

On Pineda's possible role and any limitations: "He's in full-bore competition mode to make this team, no doubt. I haven't thought too strongly about (a limit); we're in a situation where we're trying to win, and if he puts himself in the position to be one of the best guys for us on the front end, then so be it, and we'll figure the rest out later. We try to protect all of our assets, and pitching is very difficult to protect as you've seen…but if we're excited about what he's doing, then despite his injury history or developmental background, he will break camp with us if he makes the team."

On the roster situation: "I think all the roster vacancies are here, unless I find better elsewhere. I constantly talk to the players, and my job is to find better than what we've got if I need to. We have what we have in camp and all those answers will be here unless something presents itself elsewhere that is better and that I can secure. My job as a general manager is that if we can find something better that makes sense, I can't be afraid to make a move. But we're very pleased so far with how camp is going and how competition is going."

On trade rumors with Francisco Cervelli: "We have a great deal of catching and they're all playing well, so I'm seeing the speculation in the papers. We're very comfortable with what we have, but if something outside the organization presents itself and it matches up with areas where we're deep, then I'm not afraid to make a move either."

On optioning Manny Banuelos to the minor leagues: "He's going to be a starter, but we're still talking about where he's going to be, so whatever team I decide to option him to today doesn't mean that's who he will be with. We're going to figure out what's best. The arm strength is there, but I think he's a little rusty, which is understandable, so we'll see how the rest of minor-league camp goes before the actual assignment takes place."

On Banuelos' immediate future and a possible bullpen role: "When you have that kind of physical ability, and you're left-handed especially, and it's a thin pitching market, things can change quickly in this game. Like anything else, if he's knocking the bats out of everybody's hands, like anyone, he's going to be on the radar to help us."

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