We are on the verge of getting our first glimpse at the 2021 New York Yankees as all of the players have reported to camp.
The first spring training game will take place on Sunday, Feb. 28, at 1:05 p.m. at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. The game will be broadcasted on the YES Network.
With that first game less than a week away, it is appropriate to run through what I and many other fans will look for this spring training.
There should not be much, if anything, taken away from the results or performances as the main goal is for the players to be prepared physically for the regular season, but there are some fun storylines.
1) Who Breaks Camp in the Outfield?
Anyone familiar with the Yankees knows that their outfield depth is among the best in baseball. With the Yankees bringing in Jay Bruce and Derek Dietrich for tryouts this spring, it poses what might be a question as to who will be that last outfielder on the roster.
In the past two years, that player was Mike Tauchman, who had a really impressive 2019 for the Yankees but struggled in 2020. The factor with Tauchman that might complicate things if the Yankees are not surely going to have him on the major league roster out of spring is that he is out of options.
So if he beats out by Bruce or Dietrich in the spring, the Yankees would either designate him for assignment or trade him.
It will be interesting to watch and hear the Yankees’ comments about Tauchman in media availabilities. Maybe they do not care about how he does in spring and want to give him a shot at replicating that 2019 performance or at least like his excellent fielding abilities enough to keep him, rendering what Bruce and Dietrich do this spring irrelevant.
That might be the case, but the conversation is worth having.
2) How Much Will We See Corey Kluber?
Corey Kluber is one of the Yankees’ main offseason additions. He has struggled with injuries recently, as he missed most of the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Last year during summer camp, it threw off some fans when we did not see James Paxton pitch in inter-squad games for a good amount of time; he was coming off back surgery.
Heat on the hill ? pic.twitter.com/a2AcjWgcW6
— New York Yankees (@Yankees) February 21, 2021
This might be up to Kluber, but many Yankees fans are concerned about whether he can stay on the mound and regain anywhere close to his previous form. If he does not pitch in games much this spring, then those fears will still be there.
If he appears in a couple of games, maybe the fear of him getting hurt could decrease a bit in some fan’s minds.
3) Who Does Gary Sanchez Catch in Games?
It is no secret that Gary Sanchez struggled in all facets last season, but even in years that he was a big threat with his bat, he struggled defensively. It came out that Sanchez will stick to the stance he used last year, which involved sticking one leg out and was supposed to help with pitch framing.
Many fans are concerned that his stance makes it harder for him to block balls. Especially when catching someone like Zack Britton, who lives by throwing sinkers in the dirt, I will be interested to see who Sanchez is catching when he is in games in the spring. Sure he is catching everyone when they throw bullpens, but it is not the same as a game situation.
Maybe Sanchez could get some extra warm-up for the season catching some of those nasty bullpen arms like Britton and Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees’ pitching staff is one of the toughest to catch in baseball, in my opinion. It could be beneficial to get Sanchez in some game situations this spring.
4) John Sterling Calling Games on YES Network!
Spring training is a time where you can watch baseball without worrying about the outcome of the games at all.
It is a fun time, and Yankees fans should have a fun time watching the games on March 15 and 22.
Long-time Yankees radio announcer John Sterling will reunite with his old partner Michael Kay to announce those games on the YES Network.
Sterling did some announcing for YES Network in the past when he called a Brooklyn Nets vs. Atlanta Hawks game a couple of years ago.
This time around, he will call games with Kay, who called games together during the late 1990s dynasty years.
There will surely be many fun stories to hear from the duo who have not called a game together in 20 years.
Featured Image: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post