New York Yankees recently-named fifth starter Freddy Garcia finished spring training strong, allowing just one run on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts over 4.2 innings in an Opening Day preview against the Tigers.
Garcia, who ended the exhibition season with a 4.91 ERA, threw 51 of his 79 pitches for strikes and worked out of trouble in the second and third innings of New York's 2-1 win over Detroit.
It was a pleasant surprise to see the Yanks rely on the overall body of work rather than a small sample size of innings this spring in choosing Garcia over Bartolo Colon to round out the rotation.
Colon had a good spring, allowing just four runs and walking only one batter while striking out 17 over 16 innings, but the fact that he hasn't pitched in Major League Baseball for two years would make him unreliable as a starter.
Colon hasn't reached 100 innings in a season since 2005, while Garcia went 12-6 with a 4.64 ERA over 157 frames for the White Sox last season.
Let's take a look at how the Bombers' other regulars finished out spring training on Tuesday afternoon in Tampa, FL.
Where will Yankees finish in 2011?
I'm looking forward to seeing Gardner bat more in the leadoff spot this season. He went 1-for-3 against the Tigers to finish the spring with a .373 on-base percentage, following a .383 OBP campaign in 2010.
Having the speedy Gardner at the top of the lineup should lead to a lot of runs with Derek Jeter moving him over with singles, bunts and hit-and-run plays, and Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano ready to drive him in.
The Captain struggled in his final spring game, grounding out in all three at-bats, but he completed the exhibition season with an encouraging .304 average after setting career lows in 2010.
Teixeira went 0-for-2 with a walk on Tuesday and hit .294 this spring. That's his worst spring training average with the Yankees, but maybe that's a good thing. In 2009, Teixeira hit .433 in March but just .200 in April. Last year, he batted .362 in spring training but only .136 over the first month of the regular season.
A-Rod went 0-for-2 but drove in a run with a bases-loaded walk and made a tremendous diving stop on a ball hit by Jhonny Peralta in the spring finale. He had a tremendous spring, finishing with a .388 average, six homers and 15 RBI. Now the Yankees just hope he can keep things going into the regular season.
Cano went 0-for-3 to complete a disappointing spring at .236. He's had great exhibition seasons the past two years that translated into great regular seasons, so hopefully his poor exhibition doesn't translate to the 2011 season.
Swisher was 1-for-3 on Tuesday and finished the spring hitting .254. His career splits are very similar no matter where he hits in the lineup, so a move to the No. 6 hole shouldn't affect his production.
Posada went 1-for-3 against the Tigers, but he did not have a good spring, finishing at .217. Whether he's not adjusting well to the DH role or his age is finally showing, the Yankees need to be ready to take him out of the lineup if he can no longer contribute.
I wrote a couple months ago that the Yankees were sacrificing offense for defense in bringing Jones aboard to replace Marcus Thames, and Jones has done nothing to prove me wrong this spring. He went 1-for-3 with a double on Tuesday to bring his average up to a still awful .182. Hopefully, Curtis Granderson is ready to go on Opening Day.
Martin went 1-for-2 on Tuesday to finish at .262. The Yankees would be overjoyed if the starting catcher could match that average in the regular season, but he hasn't hit above .250 since 2008.
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