New York Yankees: Bombers Under the Most Pressure the Rest of Spring Training

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst IMarch 18, 2013

New York Yankees: Bombers Under the Most Pressure the Rest of Spring Training

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    We're less than two weeks away from Opening Day.

    April 1 will be here before we know it, and the New York Yankees will be starting out the season squaring off against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium.

    Yet, we still have about two more weeks of spring training for the Bombers.

    It hasn't been the prettiest of springs for the team, as they have lost two key players due to injuries. Curtis Granderson broke his forearm, which will sideline him until May. And with the latest and maybe even more severe injury, Mark Teixeira has a partially torn tendon sheath in his wrist.

    He was originally supposed be out until May, but if surgery is needed, Teixeira could be out all of 2013.

    With some time left until the end of spring training and the start of the regular season, which Yankee players are under the most pressure the rest of the way?

Juan Rivera

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    When Mark Teixeira was originally supposed to be out eight to 10 weeks, Juan Rivera was likely going to be the temporary fill-in.

    And as a stop-gap solution at first base, I was fine with Rivera being used until May.

    But if Teixeira is going to be out for the season, Rivera is not a long-term solution at the position.

    Sure, he's a veteran bat, but you're asking a player whose experience is in the outfield to be an everyday infielder now, at an older age?

    I just don't think it's the best solution, and once Brian Cashman hears the news on his first baseman, he'll make an assessment on what to do.

    And that could mean Rivera going back to the bench if the Yankees decide to make a necessary trade.

Melky Mesa

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    When Curtis Granderson went down with the broken forearm, I honestly thought Melky Mesa had a legit chance to make the team.

    And to take it one step further, he could have even been a fill-in at center field for the Yankees until Granderson got back.

    But then the Yankees made two moves this past week that I think altered Mesa's future: the team signed both Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch to compete for spots in the Yankees outfield.

    Because Mesa is hitting .186, it made Brian Cashman look outside the organization for help in the outfield, which is why Francisco and Boesch got signed.

    Mesa is a nice outfielder who can cover ground, but he's simply not hitting enough to impress.

    And with the Yankees offense left at a disadvantage to start the 2013 season, the Yankees are going to need players who can get hits and get on base.

    Mesa might end up starting the season in Triple-A instead of in the Bronx.

Cody Eppley

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    Last year, Cody Eppley was a pleasant surprise in the Yankees bullpen.

    He should be a part of the Yankees bullpen at the start of the 2013 season. If he wants to keep his spot past April, though, he'll need to improve how he's been pitching. In the spring, Eppley has a 7.20 ERA in five innings, has allowed four runs on seven hits, while batters are hitting .318 against him.

    Relievers can easily be replaced at the major league level, especially since there are so many young arms looking to get the call in the majors.

    Eppley knows he has to improve how he's been pitching if he wants to stay with the Yankees. Because if not, Francisco Rondon has been pitching very well for the Yankees in camp with a 1.29 ERA and batters hitting just .192 against him in seven innings of work.

    Rondon could be a candidate to get a call to the majors and see action in the bullpen in 2013.

Clay Rapada

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    Clay Rapada was also another pleasant surprise in the Yankees bullpen in 2013. And unlike Eppley, he's not pitching terribly in the spring.

    Rapada had a 4.50 ERA, allowing a run and a hit in two innings of work.

    Now, I'm not saying his job is in jeopardy, but he's got some competition from minor league invitee Jim Miller. The former Oakland A's reliever pitched pretty well last season in his 33 appearances with the team, and so far he has done well in the spring.

    Miller is pitching to a 2.35 ERA in 7.2 innings while batters are hitting just .185 against the 30 year old.

    Now, Rapada is a lefty and Miller is a righty, so they're not in direct competition against each other, especially since Rapada is a lefty-specialist.

    But if Rapada and Eppley both struggle in April or May, Miller may be one of the first people to get a look in the Bronx.

Adam Warren

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    When spring training started, I really thought Adam Warren had a chance to make the team.

    Now, with two weeks left, Warren will be lucky if he keeps his spot on the Yankees roster altogether.

    Of the starters in competition, Warren is by far having the worst spring, which includes David Phelps and Ivan Nova, who are vying for the No. 5 spot.

    When Phil Hughes went down with a back injury, I felt that if Hughes had to miss time due to injury, Phelps and Nova could both be in the rotation and Warren could be the long reliever in April.

    Warren's numbers, though, won't get him to the Bronx. In 10.1 innings, he's allowed 11 hits and 13 runs while batters are hitting .286 against him. What's also unusual is that he's got seven walks to just six strikeouts. Warren usually has good command of his pitches, but it's been something he's been lacking this spring.

    He better find that command if he wants a second chance at pitching in the majors.