The New York Yankees are a week away from opening day against the San Francisco Giants in the Bronx, and the competition for roster spots continues in Florida.
Shortstop has been the most watched position. Rookies Oswald Peraza and Anthony Volpe have done well this spring, giving them a chance to crack the opening day roster. Manager Aaron Boone and general manager Brian Cashman have had nothing but positive words about the prospects.
For Isiah Kiner-Falefa, whom the Yankees acquired last season from the Minnesota Twins to play shortstop, the success of Peraza and Volpe at the job seems to have thrown him out of the race.
Kiner-Falefa struggled at short last season, and Yankee fans expressed it all season.
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The emergence of the two young infielders has led Kiner-Falefa to try new positions this spring, including center field and left field.
Kiner-Falefa had the catching team with him Wednesday and hoped to get back behind the plate to do some work.
The last time he played in a game as a catcher was in 2019 with the Rangers, and he started 31 games behind the plate. He has played a total of 73 games at the position throughout his career.
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Kiner-Falefa is doing everything he can to earn a spot on the bench outside of camp.
«I think they expected me to mention it when I did,» Kiner-Falefa told the New York Post of mentioning receiving drills to the Yankees. «If I’m going to do this, I want to be the best utility player I can be. I don’t want to do it halfway.»
New York had an All-Star receiver in José Trevino shining in his first season in the Bronx last season, but he’s dealing with a wrist injury. Kyle Higashioka was also sidelined for the Yankees while playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic.
On the prospects front, 2018 first-round pick Austin Wells and Ben Rortvedt are also dealing with injuries.
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«Whatever happens, happens,» Kiner-Falefa said. «I just want to win. That’s all I’m worried about right now. I’m ready for whatever I have to do.»
The Yankees have a lot of questions to answer about their 26-man roster before March 30, and Kiner-Falefa’s roster spot is one of them. Having a utility player on the roster is always a plus, and New York has had an affinity for them in recent seasons. Tyler Wade is a prime example.
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This spring, Kiner-Falefa has a slash line of .241/.324/.379 with a double, a home run and three RBIs in 13 games. He has struck out eight times in 29 at-bats.