New York Yankees Win Grapefruit Opener: What Does it Tell Us?

Perry ArnoldSenior Analyst IFebruary 26, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009, the New York Yankees opened their spring training games with a 6-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida.

Brett Gardner led off the game with a home run. Alex Rodriguez added a two run shot off Ricky Romero in the fourth inning.

But this game probably was no indication of what fans can really expect from the Yankees this year.

Gardner, reported to be competing with Melky Cabrera for the regular job in center field, was in the starting line up, but was later replaced by prospect, Austin Jackson.

Some may look at this and speculate that Gardner now has the edge over Cabrera in center. But Shelley Duncan started as DH, Juan Miranda was the first baseman, and Kevin Cash started behind the plate. 

Two players who are not on the forty man roster and have no chance of making the team out of camp played left field. Twenty-eight year old Todd Linden and 31 year old John Rodriguez shared the spot designated for Johnny Damon.

Although each of them got a hit, tragedy would have to strike the New York team for these guys to play in the Bronx in April.

Brett Tomko started the game for New York and is a long dark horse to make the staff. Jose Veras got the win but did not pitch well. Dan Geise pitched better. Five other pitchers took the mound for New York among whom only David Robertson figures to have a decent shot at making the team.

Three fourths of the Yankee infield started the game, including A-Rod, Jeter, and Robinson Cano. A-Rod had two walks to go with his homer, Jeter picked up a single, and Cano got two hits.

So the first game of spring is not a good predictor of what is to come. These early games seldom are.

Yesterday, Manager Joe Girardi also announced his starting rotation and there were no real surprises at this point.

Girardi announced that C. C. Sabathia will be No. 1 followed by A.J. Burnett, Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain.

If the order stays in this shape, it would project that Chamberlain would pitch the home opener in New York on April 16, which will be the first game in the new Yankee Stadium.

But that is still 50 days away. A great deal can happen in those seven weeks. There will be injuries, some tweaks, some more serious.

Some players may be so hot in Florida that you can't keep them off the squad. Others may under perform to the point that they can't break the starting line-up.

So this first game tells us very little actually. But it sure is fun that they are playing again and we can speculate so much about the game and this team's future.