TAMPA — While most Yankees had the day off Monday, Corey Kluber was on the mound at the team’s Player Development Complex, where he threw a three-inning simulated game to get his work in.
The right-hander looked sharp again in the outing in what figured to be another positive step for the 34-year-old, who’s thrown just 36 ⅔ innings in the past two seasons.
With just over three weeks remaining before the Yankees host Toronto on April 1 for Opening Day, here’s what’s stood out in the first few weeks of camp.
New starters appear healthy and effective
In addition to Kluber, who was sidelined for most of 2020 with a strained shoulder, Jameson Taillon has been excellent in his first two outings in his comeback from a second Tommy John surgery. After a mostly quiet offseason, the Yankees traded for Taillon and signed Kluber in January, paying the pair of right-handers about what it cost for Masahiro Tanaka in 2020, before Tanaka left to pitch in Japan this season.
General manager Brian Cashman has acknowledged the risk in bringing in both Kluber and Taillon, but was confident both could return to their old form.
Kluber was sharp again Monday — albeit in a controlled setting against minor leaguers — and that’s after a strong showing in his first outing last Wednesday, when he tossed a pair of scoreless innings versus the Blue Jays. And Taillon backed up his solid debut against the Tigers with two more shutout frames when the Yankees visited the Pirates on Saturday.
Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres back?
It’s certainly early, but if Gary Sanchez and Gleyber Torres didn’t look any better than they were in 2020 during the opening weeks of camp, it would have raised some serious concerns. But after a busy offseason getting at-bats in winter ball in the Dominican Republic and working with the Yankees’ coaches in Tampa, Sanchez has been solid behind the plate and hit some balls hard. And Torres, by all accounts, was in better shape by the end of last season than he was when he reported to spring training 2.0 and he’s looked fine at shortstop, with DJ LeMahieu praising his extra work on defense.
Giancarlo Stanton back?
The Yankees still owe Giancarlo Stanton $188 million over the next seven years — with the Marlins kicking in $30 million as part of the trade that sent Stanton to The Bronx — and they so far haven’t had much to show for their investment. Stanton added to his litany of injuries last season with a strained left hamstring, but both he and Aaron Judge said they worked on their flexibility this offseason in an effort to stay on the field. They seem healthy to this point, with Stanton reminding people how dangerous he can be, hitting a pair of bullets against the Phillies Sunday. Of course, Stanton looked great in the early going last season as well, with six extra-base hits in his first 14 games before hitting the injured list. Stanton erupted again in the playoffs, hitting six home runs in seven games, but he’s yet to sustain that excellence as a Yankee.
Domingo German’s status
After missing last year due to his MLB suspension for violating the league’s domestic violence protocols, German won over at least some of his teammates with his apology after camp opened, and then he went out and didn’t appear to have any rust in his Grapefruit League debut, when he fanned four batters in two scoreless innings versus Detroit. Aaron Boone had wondered if German would be able to regain the form he’d shown in 2019 after not pitching in nearly a year and a half, other than a stint in winter ball in the Dominican Republic during the offseason.
Jay Bruce impact
After signing a minor league deal with the Yankees, the 33-year-old has gone 4-for-8 with a double and a homer and made a nice running catch in the outfield. The expectation was Bruce might be able to provide some lefty power off the bench if the injuries that derailed him the last few years didn’t resurface. He has a March 25 opt-out, so it remains to be seen if he sticks with the Yankees.