Spring Game 30: TB vs. NYY — Local showdown shutout

A beautiful day to begin April in sunny Florida. The clouds making their way across a perfect blue sky. The sun bringing more traditional temperatures to the area. And a slight breeze to cool off every so often. Rays fans and Yankee fans alike converged on Steinbrenner Field to watch the regular season hometown team meet the spring training hometown team for a final time this Spring.

And it was Chase Whitley’s final start of the Spring, going 4 innings, giving up 4 hits, no walks, and 1 run, and striking out 6 Rays batters. That run came in the 2nd inning after a double and an RBI single started the inning poorly for Whitley. But overall, it was good outing for Whitley, looking sharp and commanding from the mound. It was just unfortunate there was no run-support for him.

His reliever Esmil Rogers threw the 5th inning and 1 out in the 6th. Technically, he gave up a run in the 6th due to a single he allowed on base before being replaced by reliever Chasen Shreve. Shreve came on and gave up a ground-rule double, putting both runners in scoring position before getting a strikeout (the 2nd out of the inning).

The next batter hit a ball to shortstop Brendan Ryan who came down oddly on his right leg and bobbled the ball a bit, allowing both previous runners to score. He never threw the ball for the out, but instead stayed struggling through some obvious pain. After a quick inspection by trainer Steve Donahue and manager Joe Girardi, they escorted Ryan off the field, practically carrying the infielder gently. The initial diagnosis is a calf strain, as Ryan was sent for further tests and an MRI to determine the severity and the length of time he will need to be out.

With Pirela still out after his injury and Gregorius hoping to be back in action maybe this week, that opens the back-up spot for some previously discussed players and possible moves to accommodate their strengths while the starters (and their back-ups) are on the mend. Nothing will be confirmed until the extent of the injury is known and a plan is made on Ryan’s road to recovery and how to cover his role on the team in the meantime.

Our wishes for a speedy recovery to all those struggling with injuries at the end of Spring and continued health for everyone else.

So back to the game, the Rays were up 3-0 by the end of the 6th inning and did everything in their power to keep it that way. Relievers Bailey and (a very outstanding) Rumbelow kept the Rays from adding to their lead with some really great outings in the last third of the game.

But the Yankees just weren’t hitting consistently today, and that’s definitely not due to the Rays pitching, who collectively walked 4 batters (3 of those were issued in a single inning). But the Yankees only collected 4 total hits.

Final score: 3-0 Rays.

And with that, the Yankees have 3 games left to play for Spring Training — two games tomorrow (split squad) and one on Friday. (No, the exhibition game on Saturday in DC doesn’t count as part of Spring Training.) Yesterday, the big truck packed up a bunch of the extra equipment to send back to the Bronx, and another trailer loaded up many of the players’ cars. The countdown to Opening Day, in single digits available on one hand now.

The disadvantage of Spring Training is that say a player had a great Spring, all of their statistics are wiped clean and start back at zero come April 6. So Headley and Rodriguez’s outstanding averages (currently .314 and .308 respectively) in 5 days will read .000. Now, on the flip side, Gardner’s .167 and Ellsbury’s .200 will also get reset back to .000. A chance for something fresh and new, shaking off whatever cobwebs might be left over from Spring (or even last season) and just move forward, with hope and potential and a dream of ring and a championship.

Quick roster update: Adam Warren was officially named the Yankees’ 5th starter, no surprise there. The jury is still out on the back-up catcher role, between Romine and Murphy, though I suspect a decision in the next couple of days. And no matter what anyone assumes or suspect or even prefers, oddly, there’s only a handful of people who actually get a say in that decision, and none of them write or broadcast for a living.

Go Yankees!

{Tech Note: Media links to be updated to this and the last two posts shortly. I had a brief user hiccup recently. Mea culpa!}

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