Yankees’ shortstop competition far from over
TAMPA — Halfway through spring training, the Yankees’ shortstop competition is well underway — but not exactly close to being resolved.
While Thursday will mark three weeks away from Opening Day, when the Yankees will have to finalize their 26-man roster, they appear set on letting the shortstop battle among Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe run its course.
“We’re early,” manager Aaron Boone said Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s off day. “I’ve seen a lot of things that I like, but I also want it to just play out.
“Right now looking at it as, I gotta get these guys ready for their season in the best possible way. Then as we get closer and closer and we start having those debates or conversations in more earnest, we’ll do that.
“But right now, I try to treat it as making sure these guys are getting the right number of looks, at-bats, built up properly, in a position to physically be in a good spot as we continue to move forward.”
Boone added that those discussions about the team’s shortstop plans are ongoing, “but in earnest, they won’t really happen for another couple weeks.”
As the Yankees arrived at their first off day of camp, Volpe had made the most noise in the early going.
Across six games — starting three of them at shortstop and two at second base and entering one as a defensive replacement — the 21-year-old is batting 6-for-17 (.353) with a 1.097 OPS and three steals.
Peraza has made three starts at shortstop and one at second base, batting 2-for-9 (.222) with a .639 OPS and one steal, though his status bears watching after he “tweaked” his lower left leg stepping on first base in a game last Thursday.
He played again on Saturday and is expected to return to the lineup this Thursday, but if the issue lingers, it could throw a wrench into the competition.
Kiner-Falefa, meanwhile, has started all five of his games at shortstop (with one fielding error) while batting 1-for-9 (.111) with a .472 OPS and one steal.
A possible trade candidate, Kiner-Falefa is scheduled to play second base later this week.
Jonathan Loaisiga has been working on changing the grip of his slider to make it more of a sweeper, he said Tuesday.
Loaisiga started throwing a slider in 2021, which was shorter and harder with its movement, but he is now looking for a different shape. He plans on using it during the WBC as he pitches for Nicaragua.
“It’s not perfect right now, but I think it’s definitely usable, depending on the situation,” he said through an interpreter.
Gerrit Cole will make his second start of the spring on Wednesday afternoon as the Yankees host the Cardinals at Steinbrenner Field.
Aaron Judge is also scheduled to make his left-field debut — with a second straight start there on Thursday possible — as part of a plan to have Giancarlo Stanton play some right field at Yankee Stadium this season.
In need of upper-level catching depth because of injuries to Ben Rortvedt, Austin Wells and Josh Breaux, the Yankees signed Nick Ciuffo to a minor league deal.
The 28-year-old has played 21 games with the Rays and Orioles, most recently in 2021. He spent last season with the White Sox’ Triple-A affiliate.
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