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Girardi: Tuesday’s lineup ‘could very well be similar’ to Opening Day

There’s been a lot of analysis and questions posed about how Joe Girardi will maneuver his lineup heading into 2017. Now, in the final week of spring training, it appears as if we finally have an inkling on what we’ll see against righty Chris Archer and the Tampa Bay Rays on April 2.

For the Yankees’ final spring training home game on Tuesday night against the Tigers and righty Michael Fulmer, Girardi posted this lineup and said it “could very well be similar” to what we’ll see this coming Sunday:

Brett Gardner LF
Gary Sanchez C
Greg Bird 1B
Matt Holliday DH
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Starlin Castro 2B
Chase Headley 3B
Aaron Hicks RF
Ronald Torreyes SS

Masahiro Tanaka SP

A few things stand out here:

  1. Gardner and Ellsbury are split up at the top, which was something Girardi and his coaching staff said they’d consider doing. However, Ellsbury isn’t hitting eighth or ninth as a second leadoff type guy. He’s hitting fifth behind Holliday and in front of Castro. When you think of Ellsbury, you don’t think of a middle-of-the-order bat, but Girardi clearly likes going lefty-righty-lefty etc with this lineups.
  2. Sanchez is hitting second, which Girardi toyed with a few times this spring. If El Gary sticks here and Bird stays hot, expect Sanchez to get some pitches to hit.
  3. Aaron Judge is nowhere to be found. Girardi was asked recently if there could be a platoon situation in play in RF, to which he said “There’s different things we could talk about.” He also said that the RF competition is still open, and that both guys are “taking it down to the wire.” However, it seems more and more likely that the Yankees might go with Hicks and utilize his defense in a starting role. Could Judge be sent down to the minors to begin the season? Being an everyday starter and getting reps in the minors would be better for Judge than platooning. If that happens, could Rob Refsnyder become the fourth outfielder? There is still a lot to sort out over the next four days or so, but Hicks as the starter would upset the majority of Yankees fans.
  4. Torreyes gets the start at shortstop. John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman opined last Saturday that it seemed like Pete Kozma had the inside track on the starting shortstop job. However, Girardi told reporters prior to Tuesday’s game that he’s leaning towards Torreyes. Tyler Wade is also still in the mix.

For the first time in a long time this late into spring training, we’re still not 100 percent sure on what the Yankees’ lineup will look like. We’re also waiting on how the starting rotation shakes out. The final few days of camp could end up being the most important.