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New York Yankees spring training notes: Takeaways from Saturday

The New York Yankees are officially playing baseball games again. Even though it’s only spring training, the team shows promise.

James Kelly

The New York Yankees played a baseball game. I’ve been waiting three months to say that. Sure, the games don’t really count. True, the guys on the major league roster only played a few innings. But fans finally catch a glimpse of what the 2020 team could look like.

Here are some takeaways from the first game of spring training.

J.A. Happ looked very sharp

It’s no big secret that Yankees fans have had their fair share of J.A. Happ frustration. He was downright lousy for a large portion of the 2019 season.

Now, with James Paxton on the sidelines to start the season, Happ will be relied upon heavily to be consistent. That burden will only increase if Luis Severino’s injury proves to be a long-term issue.

On Saturday afternoon, Happ showed Yankees fans that his struggles may be behind him. He threw two scoreless innings and punched out three without allowing a hit or walk. His fastball reached the mid-90s and his location was excellent.

During an in-game interview, Boone raved about how effective he thought Happ was.

If Happ continues to locate his fastball, he’ll regain his form from 2018. Assuming the baseballs aren’t juiced again this year, he could be a contender for Comeback Player of the Year.

Clint Frazier played solid defense

Clint Frazier’s bat plays at the Major League level. It always has and always will. After acquiring Frazier from the Cleveland Indians, general manager Brian Cashman raved about his bat speed.

The only problem is that ever since suffering a concussion in 2018, Frazier’s defense has been an unmitigated disaster. There’s been discussion as to whether the problem stems from talent or the injury but the fact is he’s not a good defender.

The good news is that the Yankees don’t need him to be a good defender. They only need him to be passable in the field to keep his bat in the lineup. And on Saturday afternoon, he made the routine plays he needs to make.

The 2020 Yankees have a crowded outfield. But if 2019 was any indication, Frazier will be needed on the major league roster at some point. His first spring training game of 2020 was a positive sign that he can handle his defensive duties while being a weapon at the plate.

Michael King could be an asset to the 2020 team

Michael King has been a popular name since the Yankees acquired him. Originally viewed as a trade throw-in, King is quickly moving up the pitching depth chart. He tossed 1.2 innings, allowing two hits and a walk. It wasn’t a sparkling outing by any stretch, but King showed that he can get Major League hitters out.

King will likely find himself on the Yankees at some point in 2020. Injuries happen and pitchers sometimes need extra rest in the form of short stints on the injured list. Having good talent in the minor leagues will only ensure that the Yankees don’t hit a long skid should a big arm go down for an extended period of time.

King, along with Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt, represents the pitching depth that can keep the Yankees afloat through injury struggles.

At the end of the day, Saturday was only the first spring training game of the year. A lot more players have a lot more to prove. But it was clearly a step in the right direction with some encouraging signs from guys who should contribute on a World Series contending team.

Lifetime ballplayer and Yankee fan. Strongly believe that the eye-test and advanced stats can be used together instead of against each other.