Yankees’ shortstop competition far from over
TAMPA — Midway through spring training, the Yankees’ shortstop competition is in full swing — but not exactly anywhere near a resolution.
As Thursday is three weeks away from Opening Day, when the Yankees must finalize their 26-man roster, they seem determined to let the shortstop battle between Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe run its course.
“We’re early,” manager Aaron Boone said Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s day off. “I’ve seen a lot of things I like, but I also want it to just happen.
“Looking at it now, I need to get these guys ready for their season in the best way possible. Then as we get closer and closer and we start having those debates or conversations more seriously, we will.
“But right now I’m trying to treat it like I’m making sure these guys are getting the right amount of looks, at bats, are built up well, in a position to be in a good place physically as we go forward.”
Boone added that those discussions about the team’s shortstop plans are ongoing, “but seriously, they’re not really going to happen for a few more weeks.”
When the Yankees arrived on their first day off from camp, Volpe had made the most noise to begin with.
In six games – including three as shortstop and two as second base and one as defensive replacement – the 21-year-old hits 6-for-17 (.353) with a 1,097 OPS and three steals.
Peraza has made three starts at shortstop and one at second base, going 2-for-9 (.222) with a .639 OPS and stealing one, though his status means he has to watch after his lower left leg “tweaked” when he stepped on first base in a game last Thursday.
He played again on Saturday and is expected to return to the line-up on Thursday, but if the problem persists it could throw the league into disarray.
Kiner-Falefa, meanwhile, started all five games with a shortstop (with one error) as he went 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 his movement, but he is now looking for a different form. He plans to use 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 will also make his left field debut—with a second straight start there on Thursday possible—as part of a plan to bring Giancarlo Stanton to play right field at Yankee Stadium this season.
In need of top-level catch depth due to 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.