3/19/2014 5:44 P.M. ET
Old stomping ground brings McCann back
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- About two long home runs from the Champion Stadium batter's box where Brian McCann dug in for four at-bats on Wednesday, backed by a nice round of applause, there are a jumble of sun-baked practice fields enveloped in chain-link fences.
That is where his professional career started. McCann has closed the chapter on his career with the Braves, having focused all of his energy on getting ready for life in Yankees pinstripes, but this facility will always hold strong memories for the backstop.
"I came here at 18 years old," McCann said. "I got drafted by them at 18, and they taught me everything that I know about the game. I grew up in this system, and I'm in debt to a lot of coaches and a lot of people that I met through the years that have turned me into the player that I am today. I'm very grateful."
McCann said that he had been weighing an offer to attend the University of Alabama when the Braves selected him in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft, but the decision was not particularly close. McCann wanted to sign on the dotted line and play as a professional.
"I remember my first at-bat in the Gulf Coast League on those back fields," McCann said. "I think I struck out three times and was facing some pitches I'd never seen before. I thought I made the wrong choice by signing, thought maybe I should have gone to college, but I figured it out. I got a lot of coaching over there."
Asked if he seriously doubted his decision, McCann laughed and shook his head. But that didn't mean there wasn't a whole lot of work ahead.
"Out of high school, your first game, you punch out twice, see some 94-mph sinkers," McCann said. "You'd better wake up."
McCann said that he was happy to get that nice ovation on Wednesday -- a crowd, it should be noted, that was largely pro-Yankee. He said that dressing in the visitors' clubhouse was not odd.
"Not really -- I loved my time there, but now I'm here and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," McCann said.
Yanks take time considering backup infielders
TAMPA, Fla. -- The battle for the Yankees' backup infield job could go down to the final week of camp, with manager Joe Girardi saying that the "decision is still up in the air."
The Yankees are looking for a third player who is capable of spelling both Brian Roberts at second base and Kelly Johnson at third base, especially considering that Johnson is also going to be used as a backup first baseman.
Eduardo Nunez figures to be a leading candidate, and also would present a third option at shortstop behind Derek Jeter and Brendan Ryan. While Girardi said that Nunez has played well this spring at several positions, he remains noncommittal about Nunez's chances of making the team.
"I was really happy with the way that he played at the end of last year when we were sticking him at third every day," Girardi said. "I thought he did a pretty good job over there. He's been a guy that's been up and down. He's been asked to do some different things. And I think he's handled it OK."
Girardi said on Wednesday that Dean Anna, Scott Sizemore, Yangervis Solarte and Zelous Wheeler all remain in the mix, taking care to list their names alphabetically so nothing could be read into the comment.
"One of the difficult things now is, you're evaluating these guys, the at-bats are less and less, because your starters are playing more and more," Girardi said. "You might have to move some starters to some different spots or have them play in some Minor League games just so that they can get reps."
Girardi also said that Sizemore has been sidelined with a quadriceps issue, but is targeted to resume playing at the end of the week. Sizemore is coming back from two reconstructive knee surgeries and has said that he would report to Triple-A, with outs in his contract set for May 1 and Aug. 1.
"He hasn't had a lot of playing time, and he's had some things he's had to deal with," Girardi said. "Part of it is because he's had two knee injuries in a row."
Ellsbury set to test calf; earliest return is Friday
TAMPA, Fla. -- Jacoby Ellsbury said that he will soon be able to test his sore right calf by jogging and shagging fly balls in the outfield, and he does not expect the time off to affect his preparation for the season.
"It's really just a timing thing, if your feel is there," Ellsbury said. "I felt pretty good the last two games at the plate, seeing the ball well. I'm not too concerned about it. I've been doing a lot of stuff."
Ellsbury said that he hit in the batting cages, threw and lifted on Tuesday; he was scheduled to hit on the field on Wednesday. He has not yet run, but said that the calf has felt better every day.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said that Ellsbury would play on Friday at the earliest, so he will not be on the travel roster for Thursday's game against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla.
"I'd like to go, but I'm not heartbroken," Ellsbury said. "I saw a lot of those guys yesterday."
With no roadblocks, Tex rolling through spring
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mark Teixeira got a late start to his spring, as he was in the final stages of his rehab from right wrist surgery, but the Yankees first baseman has been able to have an uninterrupted schedule since then.
"You look at this whole Spring Training, and there's never been a point where he was scheduled to work that he had to say, 'I could use a day,'" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That's really encouraging to me. Everything that he's been scheduled to do, he has done."
Teixeira said that he has hit just about all of the necessary checkpoints to tell him that the wrist is in good shape; in fact, Teixeira said that he expects it to continue getting stronger as the year goes on.
Girardi said that he no longer has any injury-related apprehension when he watches Teixeira -- or Derek Jeter, for that matter -- in game action.
"I think they pretty much put it to rest," Girardi said. "Obviously you worry about your guys when they're playing out there every day, but I haven't seen anything to lead me to believe that they're not going to be healthy this season."
• Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren, two of the contenders for the Yankees' fifth-starter job, will not start any more Grapefruit League games. Girardi explained that the team is running out of innings, so Nuno and Warren will either get work out of the bullpen or start in Minor League games.
Nuno is scheduled to relieve David Phelps on Thursday against the Red Sox, and Warren is scheduled to relieve CC Sabathia on Friday against the Pirates.
• Girardi said that he has been impressed by the progress shown by some of the younger pitchers in camp, naming Dan Burawa and Shane Greene in particular. Girardi said that "they've shown that they're getting pretty close and they're knocking on the door."
• The Yankees have toyed with the idea of having Alfonso Soriano prepare as a backup first baseman, but Girardi said that there has not been enough time to work on the experiment. The urgency has been reduced because the Yankees are pleased with Kelly Johnson's work at first base this spring.