Yankees spring training: position battles, fascinating newcomers, watching comeback


The Post's Yankees beat the writer George A. King III.

Best position fight

Until James Paxton underwent back surgery on Wednesday, third base was the only position where a legitimate competition between Gio Urshela and Miguel Andujar was to be held.

Now that Paxton may be out until May, a rotation point can be won and the field is deep. Jordan Montgomery is the early favorite but is put under pressure by Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa and Mike King. Best pitching expert Deivi Garcia is in his first big league camp, but it's a long way to start the season in the big leagues.

The most fascinating little Leaguer

Despite the injuries in the past two seasons, central defender Estevan Florial is still fascinating to many because of his blanket. The 20-year-old Garcia is the first choice here after dominating in Single-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton last season before playing in Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre. The 5-foot-9, 163-pound right-hander is a big part of the future – since Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Paxton are qualified for a free agency from the coming season.

Develop a story to watch

Gleyber Torres developed as a shortstop in the Cubs organization to a Stud Minor League prospect and switched to second base when he was taken over by the Yankees, who had recently Didi Gregorius.

With Gregorius in Philadelphia, the Yankees Torres, an all-star in his first two major league seasons, are too short. This will give the Yankees a strong punch, but in the 77 games (73 starts) Torres played briefly last year, there were several boy scouts who noticed him needing better footwork in the position.

Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar and Gerrit ColePost: Charles Wenzelberg (3)

It will also be interesting to see if Andujar, who missed most of the last season due to shoulder surgery, can send Urshela off as the third baseman. Andujar can be elected to the minor league, but Urshela has no choice.

The manager's biggest challenges

Aaron Boone decides who will be the # 5 starter. If it's not Montgomery, he has the chance to open the season in Triple-A and place it regularly. The same applies to King, who has an outstanding experience. Loaisiga and Cessa would be relieved to work if they weren't in rotation.

Boone had Larry Rothschild as a pitching coach in his first two years. Rothschild was released from his contract for a year and replaced by Matt Blake, who has no experience in this role but who inherits a veteran staff led by Gerrit Cole Stud.

Boone must also meet expectations for a Yankees team that has not won a World Series since 2009.

The most fascinating newcomer

Get ready for an overdose of Cole because every step he takes in his first Yankees camp is tracked and dissected after he signed a nine-year $ 324 million contract for free agents in December. Cole's first camp will remind people that Roger Clemens joined the Yankees in 1999 and reporting dominated. At least Cole has been a Yankee for almost three months, while Clemens was acquired the night before the camp opened.

Most notable absence

Gregorius said the Yankees had shown little interest in bringing him back, and he signed a one-year deal with the Phillies. Gregorius' season didn't start until June 7th after he recovered from Tommy John's surgery. Torres briefly takes the place of Gregorius, where he won't be the smooth outfield player who was Gregorius.

Catcher Austin Romine is missing after a one-year contract with the Tigers. Romine was an excellent addition to Gary Sanchez, who has been to IL twice in the past two seasons. This makes Kyle Higashioka the leading candidate for Sanchez’s support.

Don't be surprised if it becomes a problem

Given the astonishing number of injuries sustained by key players a year ago and the fact that Paxton has recently had a back surgery, health will be the main problem for the Yankees.

Aaron Hicks suffered a back injury last spring and made his debut on May 15th. Luis Severino and Dellin Betances were injured in the camp. Severino only played in the big leagues in September and Betances worked on an inning in September and suffered an Achilles tendon injury.

Biggest comeback

Giancarlo Stanton was limited to 18 games last year due to multiple injuries. The Yankees don't need him to hit 50 homers and run in 140 runs. What they need is for the 30-year-old outfielder / DH to repeat his first season with the club in 2018, when he met 38 homers, drove in 100 runs and played mainly in 158 games.

All of this is for the regular season. What the Yankees can't afford is that Stanton injures himself under the palm trees.