The Yankees may open their season April 1 against the Red Sox, but you'd never know it from the lineup they'll be sending to the field at Yankee Stadium. With Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter all opening the season on the disabled list, the Yankees will have a DL payroll of more than $80 million. They'll also be missing four of their most productive hitters, leaving plenty of burden on the bat of Robinson Cano. Although they've been known for their power for years, the Bronx Bombers will be looking for new ways to score early in the season. In addition to the injured players, the Yankees watched Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez depart as free agents this winter, leaving them starving for sluggers.
That's where Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez come in. All are solid contact hitters with plus speed, giving manager Joe Girardi an opportunity to play a different brand of baseball than he has in recent years. There may be some hope for the occasional long ball, too. In addition to Cano, the Yankees will feature aging sluggers Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner in the middle of the lineup with the hope that they can have bounce-back seasons.New York also acquired veteran outfielder Vernon Wells during the final week of camp, hoping to rejuvenate his career. While the lineup might be ravaged by injuries, the pitching staff has remained largely intact this spring, giving the Yankees the hope that their rotation and bullpen can carry the load until their star hitters get healthy. CC Sabathia's rehab from offseason elbow surgery has been seamless, as the ace has reported no problems all spring. With the big left-hander leading the way, the 1-2-3 combination of Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitteshould be able to hold the Yankees in the thick of the competitive American League East race until the reinforcements arrive. No. 4 starter Phil Hughes battled an upper-back injury for the first few weeks of the spring, but he's expected to miss no more than one start to open the season. No. 5 starter Ivan Nova has pitched well and is looking to put his terrible second half of 2012 behind him. Closer Mariano Rivera has also looked like his old self as he returns from a torn ACL in his right knee that ended his season last May. Rivera has been dominant all spring, showing no sign of the injury. Setup men David Robertson,Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and David Aardsma give the Yankees plenty of depth, while long man David Phelps provides an extra starter in the bullpen. Whether the Yankees can navigate their way through a tough division remains to be seen, but even with their massive injury issues, New York has enough talent to get the job done. ----------------------------------------------- MLB Team Report - New York Yankees - NOTES, QUOTES --RHP Phil Hughes, who is recovering from a bulging disk in his upper back, will open the season on the 15-day disabled list. Hughes made an appearance in a minor league game Wednesday, but since it wasn't an official Grapefruit League game, his move to the DL can still be backdated. Another minor league game is on tap for Monday, and the Yankees are targeting April 11 for Hughes' regular-season debut. With Hughes sidelined, both RHPs Ivan Nova and David Phelps will be part of New York's rotation for at least the opening week. --OF Vernon Wells officially joined the Yankees on March 26, with New York sending two Class A players, OF Exicardo Cayones and LHP Kramer Sneed, to the Angels in a trade. The deal was first reported March 24 and was completed once Wells, 34, passed a physical. The Angels reportedly will pay $28.1 million of the remaining $42 million owed to Wells over the next two seasons. The past two seasons with Los Angeles, Wells hit .222 with 36 home runs and 95 RBI while earning $21 million per year. Wells hit well for the Angels all spring, batting .361 with four home runs and 11 RBI in 14 games, giving the Yankees the hope he can regain the form that landed him a seven-year, $126 million deal from the Blue Jays in December 2006. Wells is expected to assume starting left field duties until Curtis Granderson comes back in the first or second week of May. Cayones, 21, hit .228/.374/.291 with one homer, 15 RBI and seven steals in 47 games for short-season Staten Island last season. Sneed, 24, went 0-7 with a 5.37 ERA in 31 games (four starts) for high Class A Tampa last year. --SS Derek Jeter finally conceded the obvious March 26: He won't be ready to play on Opening Day. He will open the season on the 15-day disabled list due to soreness in his surgically repaired left ankle. "Of course it's disappointing," Jeter told reporters. "I told you guys all along, my goal was to be ready on Opening Day, and I didn't reach it. So, yeah, it's disappointing." Jeter broke the ankle during last fall's American League Championship Series, but he said he was back at 100 percent when he reported to spring training. He eased his way into Grapefruit League action, seeing action in the field as well as at the plate, before he began experiencing ankle stiffness in mid-March. Jeter was shut down and given a cortisone injection, but he won't be ready to resume action in time for the Yankees' Monday opener against the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees can backdate Jeter's placement on the disabled list, so the team captain will be eligible to play April 6 against the Detroit Tigers, the fifth game of the season. However, Jeter wouldn't set a timetable for his return. "I'm going to stop putting dates on it," he said. "As hard as it is sometimes, you've got to look at the big picture. My goal was to be ready for Opening Day, but my goal also was to be ready for the season. I pushed it to try to get there Opening Day, and it didn't work out." --RHP Chien-Ming Wang signed a minor league contract with the Yankees, returning to the organization with which he began his career back in 2005. Wang, who has battled myriad injuries since 2008, said he feels healthy and is ready to do "whatever I can" to return to the majors with the Yankees this season. Wang pitched 12 scoreless innings for Chinese Taipei during the World Baseball Classic, his fastball registering 91-93 mph during the tournament. --SS Eduardo Nunez has worked on a new throwing motion all spring with infield coach Mick Kelleher, and the results are beginning to show. Nunez said that although he's still not completely comfortable with his new, shorter motion, he can see the difference in his accuracy. "I don't throw too many balls in the stands anymore," Nunez said with a laugh. Nunez is expected to replace SS Derek Jeter during at least the first week of the season while Jeter continues to rehab his injured left ankle. BY THE NUMBERS: 11 -- SS Derek Jeter had started 11 consecutive season openers for the Yankees before this season, when he will start the year on the DL. Jeter has started every Opening Day for the Yankees since 1996 except for one, when he opened the 2001 on the DL with a quad injury. QUOTE TO NOTE: "Until somebody knocks us off, we're the champs of that division. We came four games away from going to the World Series last year; that's a pretty good year. We have a lot of pieces coming back and hopefully we can do what we want to do and that's getting to the World Series." -- LHP Andy Pettitte, on the perception that the Yankees are due for a down year. ----------------------------------------------- MLB Team Report - New York Yankees - ROSTER REPORT The Yankees have seen their lineup decimated by injuries this spring, forcing general manager Brian Cashman to scour the waiver wires for players. Robinson Cano will continue to anchor the lineup, but the Yankees would be well-served if veterans Kevin Youkilis, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner found their old forms. ROTATION: 1. LHP CC Sabathia 2. RHP Hiroki Kuroda 3. LHP Andy Pettitte 4. RHP Ivan Nova 5. RHP David Phelps Sabathia has shown no ill effects from last fall's elbow surgery, though the Yankees might try to give him an extra day in between starts at times during the season to keep his arm fresh. Kuroda and Pettitte make up a strong 2-3 combo, giving the Yankees plenty of veteran presence in the top part of the rotation. Hughes took about three weeks to get past a bulging disc in his upper back, but he was throwing in minor league games during the final two weeks of camp, giving him the confidence that he would miss no more than one regular-season start if any. Nova beat out RHP David Phelps for the final spot in the rotation, though both had strong springs. Phelps could take Hughes' first start if he's not ready by April 6. BULLPEN: RHP Mariano Rivera (closer) RHP David Robertson RHP Joba Chamberlain LHP Boone Logan RHP David Aardsma RHP Shawn Kelley RHP Jim Miller or RHP Cody Eppley Rivera returns to his customary closer's role, hoping to pick up where he left off when he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his right knee last May. Rivera, who has announced that he will retire at the end of the season, will get the royal treatment all season as he makes his final stops at ballparks around the league. Robertson is back as the primary setup man, using his deceptive fastball and plus curveball to get the ball to Rivera. Chamberlain is back for what he hopes is his first full season since 2010, having dealt with a major ankle injury andTommy John elbow surgery during the past two years. Aardsma brings closer experience with him to the bullpen as he also looks for his first full campaign since 2010, having battled a hip injury and Tommy John surgery. Logan will once again serve as the Yankees' primary lefty specialist, especially early in the season as LHP Clay Rapada rehabs from a minor bout of shoulder bursitis. Phelps will serve as the long man. LINEUP: 1. CF Brett Gardner 2. RF Ichiro Suzuki 3. 2B Robinson Cano 4. 3B Kevin Youkilis 5. DH Travis Hafner 6. LF Vernon Wells 7. 1B Juan Rivera 8. SS Eduardo Nunez 9. C Francisco Cervelli/Chris Stewart Manager Joe Girardi will try to piece his lineup together until SS Derek Jeter, 1B Mark Teixeira and CF Curtis Granderson return from their respective injuries. Until then, the Yankees will rely on the speedy Gardner and Ichiro to set the table for Cano, Youkilis and Hafner. Rivera will have the first crack at filling in for Teixeira, while Wells will stand in for Granderson until he returns, then assume a reserve role as the lone right-handed outfielder on the bench. Cervelli and Stewart will share catching duties, and while neither is a particularly strong hitter, Cervelli has shown he can do damage from time to time. RESERVES: C Francisco Cervelli/Chris Stewart INF Jayson Nix OF Brennan Boesch INF/OF Ronnier Mustelier or INF Dan Johnson or OF Ben Francisco Nix will serve as the jack-of-all-trades, backing up three infield positions while Youkilis can shift to first base if one is needed. Boesch will be the fourth outfielder until Granderson returns, at which time he could be optioned to Triple-A, serving as injury protection for Hafner. The final spot on the roster is up in the air, though the winner of the job will likely only remain on the roster until Jeter comes back from the DL. MEDICAL WATCH: --RHP Phil Hughes (bulging disk in upper back) was throwing in minor league games in late March. He will open the season on the disabled list, but the Yankees are targeting April 11 for his regular-season debut. --SS Derek Jeter (left ankle surgery in October 2012) was fine early in spring training, but he complained of soreness in mid-March and was shut down. He will open the season on the disabled list, and he won't put a timetable on his return. --RHP Michael Pineda (right shoulder surgery in May 2012) continues to rehab after having a torn labrum repaired. He went on the 60-day disabled list March 16. --3B Alex Rodriguez (left hip surgery in January 2013) went on the 60-day disabled list Feb. 13. The Yankees expect to have him back after the All-Star break, but there's a chance he could miss the entire season. --OF Curtis Granderson (fractured right forearm) was hurt Feb. 24 when hit by a pitch. He is out until mid-May. --1B Mark Teixeira (partially torn tendon sheath in right wrist) was hurt March 5. He won't need surgery. He is out until at least early May, and there's a chance he won't be back until June. --LHP Boone Logan (sore left elbow) returned to action March 19 after missing the first month of spring training. He is expected to be ready for Opening Day. --LHP Clay Rapada (left shoulder bursitis) was playing catch on flat ground as of March 20, and he hadn't thrown off a mound since the first week of March. He is unlikely to start the season on the active roster. --LHP Cesar Cabral (stress fracture in left elbow) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He was throwing off a mound in late March.