3/27/2014 5:09 P.M. ET
After cuts, Yankees gear up for final decisions
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Yankees are closing in on their final roster decisions of the spring, shipping 10 more players to Minor League camp and preparing to have lengthy discussions before finalizing their 25-man Opening Day roster on Friday.
New York made seven roster moves after Wednesday's game, optioning right-hander Preston Claiborne and outfielder Zoilo Almonte to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They also reassigned infielders Russ Canzler and Scott Sizemore, and right-handers David Herndon, Jim Miller and Yoshinori Tateyama to Minor League camp.
The club announced on Thursday that it also reassigned right-handers Danny Burawa and Chris Leroux, as well as left-hander Fred Lewis, to Minor League camp. Thirty-five players remain in big league camp, and manager Joe Girardi said that all of the final decisions will be announced on Friday.
"It's been a fierce camp here, and [they] have had a good camp here," Girardi said. "We always tell them, 'At some point, the phone's going to ring, and you want to be that person who's throwing the best.'"
With infielder Brendan Ryan starting the year on the 15-day disabled list due to a pinched nerve in his upper back, Girardi and his staff will have to choose two backup infielders from the group of Eduardo Nunez, Dean Anna and non-roster invitee Yangervis Solarte.
"I always say, 'If you're playing, you have a chance to show us something,'" Girardi said. "It will probably be a long discussion [Friday] on what we feel the best fits are."
There are four vacancies in the bullpen, and two of them appear to be locked in for right-handers David Phelps and Adam Warren. Right-hander Dellin Betances has pitched well this spring but has a Minor League option remaining, giving the club some flexibility.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has said that the club would prefer to have an additional left-handed reliever, so Vidal Nuno or Cesar Cabral could win a bullpen spot. Right-handers Matt Daley and Shane Greene also remain in camp.
"We're trying to [narrow it down], because people have to pack and get ready for their season," Girardi said.
Nunez, Anna, Solarte await Yanks' choices
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Eduardo Nunez has not packed one stitch of clothing for the regular season, and probably won't until Saturday. He is one of three Yankees infielders stuck in a holding pattern while the team decides how to finish off the 25-man roster.
"It's funny, but it's not funny," said Nunez, with a laugh.
Nunez, Dean Anna and non-roster invitee Yangervis Solarte all had one last crack to impress the Yankees' coaches on Thursday, grabbing starts in a 4-2 Grapefruit League victory over the Pirates at McKechnie Field.
Nunez went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while Anna and Solarte each went hitless in four at-bats. The Yankees plan to take two of the three and will give the topic a lot of thought and discussion on Friday, when an announcement is expected.
"This was not a great Spring Training for offense, but I'm learning a lot," said the 27-year-old Nunez, who batted .265 this spring. "I got my confidence at third base and second base, too. But I don't worry about my hitting, because I can do better with that."
Nunez has played in 129 career big league games, all with the Yankees, but manager Joe Girardi has said that neither of their two vacancies have been decided. Nunez said that getting the late nod to make the club is not out of the ordinary for him.
"The last two years, they [told] me the last two days of the camp," Nunez said. "So for me, it's not a surprise. I've always been in this situation."
Solarte, 26, was among the Yankees' top offensive players of the spring. A non-roster invitee who played at Triple-A in the Rangers' system the last two years, Solarte hit .415 (17-for-41) with two homers and eight RBIs to put himself on the radar.
"I feel pretty satisfied with the work that I have done, but regarding the chances, that's something I cannot control and I leave that to the Yankees," Solarte said through an interpreter.
Solarte was nearly promoted to the big leagues by the Rangers last September, and said that he would report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if he doesn't make the Yankees' Opening Day roster.
"I will take an opportunity, either if it's up here on the team or down in Triple-A," Solarte said. "You just want an opportunity."
Anna, 27, was acquired from the Padres in November after leading the Pacific Coast League with a .331 average last year, and is attending his first big league camp this spring.
He said that he did not feel any added pressure on Thursday, knowing that the Yankees will be judging more than just one game to make their decisions.
"That's over with. That's how I felt the first week, where I needed to do something no matter what," Anna said. "But now it's just, get ready for the season. Whatever happens from here on out, I feel I did pretty well."
Yankees send righty Claiborne to Triple-A
TAMPA, Fla. -- Right-hander Preston Claiborne made 44 appearances at the big league level last season for the Yankees, but his stuff never appeared to be quite as crisp this spring, manager Joe Girardi said.
Claiborne was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Wednesday's appearance against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. Claiborne faced six batters and did not record an out, charged with six earned runs on four hits with a walk and hit-by-pitch.
"With what he did last year, we thought that he would have a really good chance of being in our bullpen," Girardi said. "He just really never got on a roll in Spring Training. As we told him, we know he's capable of pitching much better than he did. It's his job just to go get ready."
Claiborne, 26, posted a 4.11 ERA in 50 1/3 big league innings last season. His ERA in seven Grapefruit League appearances this spring was 14.29 (nine runs in 5 2/3 innings), and Girardi said that Claiborne seemed disappointed by the demotion.
"I don't think anyone ever takes the news well," Girardi said. "I think he understood, and he understood that he was not throwing the ball the way that he was capable of. But he was very determined to go fix that."
• Yankees outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (sore right calf) was scheduled to have a workout day on Thursday, then will play in Minor League games on Friday and Saturday, according to Girardi. The Yanks' reports on Ellsbury have been "really, really good," Girardi said.
• Yankees outfielder/designated hitter Alfonso Soriano continues to have maintenance on his stiff right shoulder, which will stretch into the regular season.
"Some of it has to do with years in the big leagues, is probably one way to put it," Girardi said.