Injured Yankees on mend for opener
Johnson, Marte, Cervelli cleared to play Sunday night
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nick Johnson? Check.
Damaso Marte? Check.
Francisco Cervelli? Check.
Despite some 11th-hour worries to the contrary, the Yankees broke camp on Saturday with all their injured players in tow. Johnson, who fouled a ball off his right knee on Friday, should start Sunday at designated hitter on Opening Night against the Red Sox. Marte and Alfredo Aceves felt well enough to make the bullpen, prompting the Yankees to option lefty Boone Logan -- their standby relief option -- to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Catcher Jorge Posada and his backup, Cervelli, reported no setbacks from their injuries.
Just like that, a frustrating week melted into a weekend of relief.
"Obviously if something came up between now and [Sunday], that could change," manager Joe Girardi said. "But we expect them to be fine."
Johnson became the team's most pressing issue after he fouled a ball off his right knee in Friday afternoon's game against the Orioles. Though Johnson didn't participate in any baseball activities Saturday, spending the entire day receiving treatment, the Yankees don't anticipate his bruised knee being an issue on Opening Night. Johnson should hit second in the order.
"He should be OK [Sunday]," Girardi said prior to Saturday's exhibition against the Yankees' Future Stars. "He feels pretty good today."
"It's sore," Johnson said. "But once I get out there, I'll just go play ball."
Marte also received treatment on his "cranky shoulder" and played catch on Saturday. Neither he nor Aceves -- who pitched in a Minor League game on Friday -- reported any setbacks.
"We worked hard on my arm, so today it feels better," Marte said. "I think the inflammation's almost gone."
And the Yankees' catching situation, too, is stable. Posada, who had been nursing a sore neck earlier this week, caught three innings in Saturday's exhibition and showed no ill effects, booming a double to left field in the third. Away from the main field, Cervelli took batting practice, caught in the bullpen and rode a stationary bike.
"It's better than yesterday," Cervelli said of his hamstring. "Just a little tight, but not like the first day."
The Yankees did add a bit of catching depth on Saturday, signing Chad Moeller to a Minor League contract. Barring further injury issues, Moeller will serve as Jesus Montero's backup at Triple-A Scranton.
The Yankees released catcher Mike Rivera to make room on the roster.
Logan demoted to Triple-A
TAMPA, Fla. -- With Alfredo Aceves and Damaso Marte both recovered from their injuries, the Yankees flew north on Saturday with a fully-stocked bullpen.
Which means there was simply no room for Boone Logan.
The Yankees optioned Logan to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday, finalizing their roster by cutting ties with a lefty who nearly forced his way onto the team.
In 10 1/3 Grapefruit League innings, Logan struck out eight batters, walked two and produced a 1.74 ERA. For a time, the Yankees toyed with the idea of carrying him as a second lefty in the bullpen. But the signing of Chan Ho Park left too many pitchers vying for too few bullpen spots. Logan became the odd man out.
"It's extremely hard, because he did everything right and he pitched really well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're excited by him."
Thames heads north with bench job
TAMPA, Fla. -- Though it became something of a formality after Marcus Thames began producing this spring, Thames could not hide his excitement at officially making the Yankees' 25-man roster.
"It felt great," Thames said Saturday, after the news went public. "That was some weight lifted off my shoulders, because it's been beating me up a little bit."
Thames, whose Grapefruit League average sat at .094 on March 25, went 4-for-14 with two homers over the next four days, effectively sealing his roster spot as a power right-handed bat off the bench.
Even so, the Yankees made Thames sweat a little, waiting until Friday night to tell him he had won the job.
"I didn't know," Thames said. "Nobody ever told me anything. I just kept coming in and trying to get better. My spring wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I was beating myself up trying to do a little bit too much, because I've always wanted to come back here and play."
Thames, the Yankees' 30th-round Draft pick in 1996, broke in with the club back in 2002.
Prospects Romine and McAllister honored
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees presented catcher Austin Romine and right-hander Zach McAllister their 2009 Kevin Lawn Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year awards prior to Saturday's exhibition game between the Yankees and the Future Stars.
Romine, 21, hit .276 with 13 home runs and 72 RBIs for Class A Tampa last season. Named the second-best prospect in the organization by Baseball America, Romine went 3-for-14 in 10 games this spring.
McAllister, 22, led the Double-A Eastern League with a 2.23 ERA in 22 starts last season. Ranked by Baseball America as the team's fifth-best prospect, McAllister pitched three shutout innings this spring.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.