02/21/12 9:18 PM EST
Ibanez to provide Yanks with flexibility
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Ibanez, 39, could earn up to $4 million with included plate appearance incentives. The Yankees see Ibanez as their primary designated hitter against right-handed pitching, with Andruw Jones facing left-handers.
"We plan on DHing him, we plan on putting him in the outfield as well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We've talked about trying to give some guys a DH day or a rest day. It gives you more flexibility because he can play the outfield as well."
Ibanez batted .245 with 20 home runs and 84 RBIs in 144 games for the Phillies last season. Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long offered rave reviews of the 16-year big league veteran, whom Long knows from their time together in the Kansas City Royals organization.
"He's a perfect fit for us," Long said. "His professionalism, the way he goes about it, he's an RBI machine. He can hit. It's a nice addition. What he brings to the table, he's just a terrific human being who brings a professionalism about him that you don't find out there every day. I'm glad we got him; glad we picked him up. He's going to be a big help."
The Yankees pursued Ibanez over choices like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui and Vladimir Guerrero -- all of whom expressed interest in playing for the Yankees -- because of Ibanez's ability to help on defense. For example, Girardi said that he could see a situation where Ibanez plays left field on a day that Curtis Granderson is the DH, moving Brett Gardner to center field.
"It just gives me some good flexibility," Girardi said. "If you wanted to DH [Mark Teixeira], you could move [Nick Swisher] to first if you wanted, or move [Eric] Chavez to first. If you move Swish to first, you could put Ibanez in right. There's a lot of different things you can do."
Yanks bring back Chavez on one-year deal
TAMPA, Fla. -- Joe Girardi spoke on Tuesday afternoon as though Eric Chavez was already listed on his roster, and the Yankees' manager had good reason for his confidence.
Chavez and the Yankees have agreed to a one-year, $900,000 contract that includes bonuses for performance incentives, MLB.com has confirmed.
The deal was first reported by MLB Network and CBS Sports analyst Jon Heyman and has not been officially announced by the club because Chavez must first pass a physical.
Earlier in the day, Girardi mentioned Chavez as one of his backup first-base options before quickly realizing his error and clarifying that a deal was not yet finalized.
"We don't have him, but there has been talk about him," Girardi said, adding, "I'd like to have him back. I thought he was productive for us and he gives me flexibility."
The Yankees had been negotiating with Chavez, 34, envisioning him as a solid option to back up Alex Rodriguez at third base and Mark Teixeira at first base.
In fact, his locker next to Nick Swisher at George M. Steinbrenner Field had remained vacant, an indication that he was eventually expected to arrive in camp.
Girardi said that he does not view Chavez as one of the Yankees' primary designated hitters. Those roles will be filled by Raul Ibanez against right-handed pitchers and Andruw Jones against lefties.
A six-time Rawlings Gold Glove award winner at third base and an American League All-Star for four consecutive seasons beginning in 2002, when he starred for the Athletics, Chavez will likely be the final addition to the roster before position players report to camp on Friday.
While the Yankees had interest in Chavez dating back to before December's Winter Meetings, the Yankees were most recently waiting to complete the trade of A.J. Burnett to the Pirates before further pursuing Chavez.
Jones hoping for larger role with Yanks
TAMPA, Fla. -- Andruw Jones said that he is running better after having arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in October, and the 10-time Gold Glove Award winner is hoping it leads to a bigger role with the Yankees.
The 34-year-old said he is ready to attack left-handed pitching as part of the Yankees' DH platoon with Raul Ibanez, but he also hopes to be more of a defensive option this year.
"I feel great," Jones said. "I've been running a lot and the goal was to get back into playing shape and be lighter and go out and play. If they say, 'Hey, Andruw, we need you to go in there in the third inning or the fourth inning.' I'll be ready to go."
Jones said the surgery repaired a small meniscus tear that forced him to repeatedly have his knee drained, limiting his ability to play the outfield.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that he had to check on Jones' knee at times last year, but said that he still considered Jones a strong defensive option when he was in the field.
"I felt very comfortable when he was out there," Girardi said. "You look at Andruw and the defense that he has played over his years; maybe he's not what he was when he was 24 years old, but he still really knows how to play the outfield."
Jones said that it would have been tough for him to get much more playing time over Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher last year, but that he never doubted his ability to help defensively.
"I take a lot of pride in that," Jones said. "I have a lot of things to do to get the job done in the outfield. I've been playing for a while, really. I never doubted that if someone needed me, I could go out there and play for a month or whatever."
Andruw Jones said that he received no compensation from right-hander Hiroki Kuroda for surrendering uniform No. 18. In Japan, that number is typically reserved for the ace of a team's staff. "It's a Japanese thing," Jones said. "Why not let him do it?"
All-Star David Robertson hasn't let his success go to his head. Asked if this offseason was different for him, he replied, "The fishing hasn't been as good, that's really about it."
Joba Chamberlain is expected to throw his first full-mound bullpen on Wednesday as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Right-hander George Kontos suffered the first injury of camp. Kontos hurt his oblique on Tuesday and will miss a couple of weeks, manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees are planning a group field trip for all players on March 1, the day before the team's first exhibition game. They have previously visited a pool hall (2009) and video arcade (2010).