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Four keys to a successful Yankees Spring Training

With a lot of pressure on them this year, the Yankees have some interesting storylines heading into Spring Training

You know Spring is just around the corner when baseball talk heats up. The Yankees arrived in Tampa last week and had their first full team workout this week. The first Spring Training game is this Friday, February 23rd against the Detroit Tigers. It’s that time of the year to work out all your kinks and get back into the swing of things (no pun intended).

Spring Training itself may not mean much from a record standpoint but it does mean something. This is where you start building good habits that take you through the year. The baseball season is a grind and nothing can prepare you for it quite like a good practice run. The Yankees have a lot going on that requires attention heading into the 2018 season.

Here are five keys to a successful Spring Training for the Yankees:

Coming out party for Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield

The best part about Spring Training is the opportunity for little known prospects to make a splash. Last season, Jordan Montgomery won the much coveted fifth spot in the Yankees rotation. This year, that spot may change hands again.

Chance Adams was supposed to be the favorite to win the fifth spot in the rotation last year but was just out-classed by Montgomery. Adams is now a year removed from a fantastic season in Triple-A and is poised to make a run at the final rotation spot.

Justus Sheffield is a name that Yankee fans should know, as he is groomed to be a great pitcher one day. Sheffield is the Yankees’ third best prospect, and was acquired in the Andrew Miller trade with the Indians two seasons ago. He’s a lefty who lit up the Arizona Fall League and is considered by many scouts to be a future ace. According to many, he doesn’t have any overwhelming pitches, but has three great breaking pitches with a mid 90’s fastball and good command. Be on the lookout for him to impress before the season begins.

Find a home for Chad Green

One of a manager’s toughest tasks is finding the right combination of pitchers in his bullpen. This season is no different, as the Yankees have a plethora of talent in the bullpen and only one set spot. For now at least. Aroldis Chapman is the closer, Dellin Betances is a late-inning stopper, and David Robertson is a plug him in, do it all reliever, who can come in at any given point.

The focal point for Aaron Boone’s bullpen plans should be finding a spot for Chad Green. With starting pitchers pitching less, Green is an ace in the hole. If I were Boone, I would have Green and Tommy Kahnle rotate as the first men out of the bullpen. There’s nothing more important than stopping the bleeding after a bad start, or continuing the momentum after a good one.

Green should also be considered to make spot starts from time to time. He could become a part of a six man rotation if things start to go south for the Yankees. As a starter, Green was OK in the role. As a spot starter, he may be able to grab more opportunities.

Give Miguel Andujar, Clint Frazier a shot

As talented as this Yankees roster is, there are still plenty of positions for the taking in the Yankees lineup. There are two obvious ones, that being second and third base. However, centerfield is still up for grabs between Aaron Hicks, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clint Frazier.

We’ll start with second base, as veteran Danny Espinoza was brought in to compete. He’s nothing more than a fill-in for the Spring and will most likely make the team as a utility man. The other three competing for the second base spot are Ronald Torreyes, Tyler Wade and Gleybar Torres. The competition is more for the beginning of the season, as Torres has it all but locked up. However, due to the concerns after Torres’ Tommy John surgery and the Yankees wanting to control his contract for another year, he will start the season in Triple-A.

The race for third base is a little more intriguing. The Bronx Bombers could go a couple of different routes here. Ideally, Miguel Andujar should be given a shot if he has a great Spring Training. He’s a very talented hitter whose defense has and will continue to improve. However, the Yankees could go with Wade or bring in a veteran like Mike Moustakas to round out the lineup.

Centerfield is more of a competition than one might think. Jacoby Ellsbury is still fighting for that spot after having a great end to the season. The often-injured Aaron Hicks is the incumbent and should win the spot, but a look should also be given to Clint Frazier. Frazier is uber-talented, dynamic on defense and can boost his trade value by getting some quality playing time. It’s not a bad problem to have six good outfielders. Aaron Boone should take that into consideration when choosing his lineup every day.

Relax and have fun

By far the most important part of this Spring Training is making it out alive and healthy. Making it out alive also entails being able to deal with the non-stop media that will be covering the new “Murderers’ Row”. It’s gotten to the point where every single batting practice session will be diagnosed. All of this extra media coverage is going to make Tampa a pressure cooker if Giancarlo Stanton struggles or Aaron Judge starts striking out a ton. As I’ve stated before, this is the most pressure a Yankees team has had since the dynasty years.

The Yankees need to just go about their business and have some fun out there. Boone seems to be a very laid back guy, which is good for the clubhouse. They just need to make sure to zone out all of the outside noise and relax. Baseball is supposed to be fun, not a serious endeavor. This may be New York team, but they are always in a baseball mindset.

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