It doesn’t sound as though the Yankees are giving much thought to carrying both Luke Voit and Greg Bird on the active roster this season, as manager Aaron Boone told reporters today that it’s “tough to envision” rostering multiple first basemen (Twitter link via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). Boone noted that DJ LeMahieu figures to serve as a backup at first base, among numerous other positions, so it seems one of Voit or Bird will be ticketed for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to open the season. Both players have enjoyed productive spring showings thus far, though it’s hard to imagine that Voit doesn’t have the inside track after last season’s Herculean .333/.405/.689 slash and 14 home runs in just 148 plate appearances with the Yankees.
Here’s more from the division…
- Right-hander Nate Karns is generally healthy but may not be stretched out in time to factor into the Orioles’ Opening Day rotation, per Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles’ lone free-agent rotation addition, Karns missed the 2018 season while recovering from 2017 thoracic outlet surgery. He’s made a pair of appearances this spring but only pitched one inning in his most recent outing, prompting new manager Brandon Hyde to cast doubt on Karns’ ability to start games early in the year. “We’re not going to put him in any position to get hurt, and we’re not going to try and push through any kind of injury or any kind of soreness right now,” said Hyde of Karns. Whether Karns will open the season in the ’pen remains to be seen, though it’s worth noting that he does have a minor league option remaining, so the O’s could potentially send him to Norfolk for a couple of outings to continue building arm strength.
- The Rays are planning to use a three-man rotation consisting of Opening Day starter and reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell, offseason signee Charlie Morton and 2018 trade acquisition Tyler Glasnow, Juan Toribio of MLB.com writes. From there, they’ll use a pair of openers in the would-be fourth and fifth slots of a traditional rotation; Ryne Stanek, Emilio Pagan, Colin Poche and Hunter Wood are among the candidates to function in that capacity. Candidates to follow the team’s openers include Ryan Yarbrough, Jalen Beeks, Jake Faria and Yonny Chirinos. As has been widely expected, it appears that the Rays will continue an aggressive means of pioneering what was a polarizing but increasingly accepted tactic throughout the league in 2018. Stanek was the team’s most frequent and successful opener in 2018, while Yarbrough was the most prolific followup arm (147 1/3 innings pitched despite making just six starts). Presumably, they’ll reprise those roles this year, with Tampa Bay shuffling the rest of the pitching mix based on matchups, workload and other factors.