FRIDAY: Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner wouldn’t rule out a pursuit of Morales when asked by George A. King III of the New York Post. “We never say never,” he told King. “We always look at all possibilities.” Steinbrenner did add that the current plan is to remain internal, but his answer was far more open-minded than the recent comments by Orioles executive VP Dan Duquette, who plainly stated that his team’s signing of Nelson Cruz closed the door on speculation regarding Morales.
King adds that while the Yankees aren’t too concerned about Teixeira’s ability to play — GM Brian Cashman termed him day to day — the outlook on Beltran is much cloudier. Cashman said it isn’t fair to speculate on Beltran either way. Beltran was able to handle a 25-swing soft toss session with hitting coach Kevin Long and is expected to try the exercise again today. Cashman said he’s hopeful that Beltran can graduate to rehab games soon, but as King notes, if the cortisone shots Beltran has received don’t do the job, he could miss more than two months with elbow surgery.
THURSDAY: The draft pick compensation that is hanging over Kendrys Morales’ head is roughly a week away from being lifted, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears from multiple Major League sources that the Yankees are among the teams with potential interest in the switch-hitting Scott Boras client.
The Yankees are concerned about injuries to first baseman Mark Teixeira (wrist inflammation) and Carlos Beltran (bone spurs in his elbow), and they lack a true backup first baseman, which caused them to play Brian McCann at first base for the first time in his pro career yesterday.
Rosenthal notes that the Mariners continue to signal that they don’t have the financial wherewithal to sign Morales, and the Brewers, among other NL clubs are concerned with his defense at first place. That concern isn’t as big for the Yankees, as Morales would still be an upgrade over McCann or Kelly Johnson, who are the current backups to Teixeira.
As Newsday’s David Lennon writes, Morales might seem an expensive insurance policy for the Yankees, but it’s also a potentially costly gamble to play the team’s $85MM catcher out of position. McCann, Lennon notes, indicated in the offseason that his preference was to delay any time at first base until later in his contract. He did admit to the fact that first base was less taxing on his body and a nice mental break, but he also told reporters that he was glad whenever a ball wasn’t hit to him.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that he’d be surprised if the Yankees signed Morales, as every indication he’s received from the club is that they expect Beltran and Teixeira to be back and healthy (Twitter links). In that instance, signing Morales would create a logjam of first base/DH/corner outfield types with Teixeira, Beltran, and Alfonso Soriano already on the roster.