The Quest for No. 28 is about to begin. Baseball is back in full bloom for the Yankees as Spring Training is set to begin in six days. Before the Yankees start preparing for the season there are still a few question marks that have yet to be answered.
The back-up left fielder competition and bench producer: The Yankees signed outfielders Randy Winn and Marcus Thames during the offseason, so that they may have a chance to compete with Brett Gardner for the open slot in left field.
The Yankees lost Austin Jackson in the deal to acquire center fielder Curtis Granderson. Javier Vazquez's arrival back in the Bronx spelled good-bye to fan favorite Melky Cabrera. Johnny Damon may soon join Cabrera in Atlanta, as he has been offered a deal with the Braves next year.
Winn and Gardner may be the top choices for that open spot, but in recent years both have only proven to be as good as a fourth outfielder.
The Yankees probably won't choose Marcus Thames even if he has a big Spring Training. He could win the last spot on the team for a bench role.
Another option is the team's Rule 5 Draft Pick, Jaime Hoffman. Hoffman is considered a talented outfielder with some upside. This will probably be one of the biggest competitions in the Yankees Spring Training this year.
Thames has power that would come in handy off the bench, so many predict he will win this spot. This allows Hoffman to mature and ripen a bit more until a possible late Summer/September call-up. But he is also a Rule 5 draft pick, which quarantees his spot on the team.
Left-handed pitchers Wilkin Arias and Royce Ring: These two pitchers will be in the spotlight as they look for a spot in the Yankees bullpen for 2010. Their chances of making the team may be slim if Damaso Marte earns himself a spot in the bullpen again.
These pitchers also will have to hurdle over their competitors like Jonathan Albaladejo, Boone Logan, Sergio Mitre, and Mark Melancon. Chad Gaudin and Mitre will be competing for a rotation spot, so if they don't make it there they will probably fall into the bullpen.
Kei Igawa, Jason Hirsh, Mike Rivera, Colin Cutis, etc: The list goes on for the rest of the players invited to Spring Training. These four players highlight just a few that will probably just be donning the Yankees uniform in Spring Training.
Afterwards they will trade that uniform in for Scranton Wilkes-Barre's uniform or Trenton's uniform. They have little to no chance of making the team right out of Spring Training.
Austin Romine and Jesus Montero: These two catchers will probably use Spring Training to get a feel of the Major Leagues. The Yankees could soon see these two guys in pinstripes and in the Bronx.
Romine still has some room to improve, but Jesus Montero looks ready. If Jorge Posada or Francisco Cervelli were to get injured for an extended period of time, the arrival of Montero could soon be nearing.
The Yankees have an overload of catchers with these two prospects included. Then come the two prospects. The Yankees could always use Romine as trade bait for something prized in the market in July. Montero is untouchable. For now, these two prospects will look to make great impressions in Spring Training.
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