Nathan Eovaldi’s spring was everything the Yankees could have hoped for. Can he carry that momentum into the regular season?
The 25-year-old makes his official Yankees debut on Friday, opening the three-game series against the Red Sox at the Stadium. Eovaldi posted a 0.66 ERA in four spring outings, striking out 14 batters without issuing a walk over 13.2 innings.
“I love the way he competes,” Joe Girardi said. “Obviously you love the power arm that he has; his ability to throw his curveball. I think his split got better as spring training went on. He’s got a great arm. When he locates it, you’re not going to be able to do much with it.”
Eovaldi struggled at times with the Marlins last season, going 6-14 with a 4.37 ERA. He allowed a league-high 223 hits in 199.2 innings, fanning 142. He added a splitter late in the season that proved to be quite effective, something he continued to develop this spring.
“If you’ve never seen him, his stuff impresses you,” said Chase Headley, who faced him 12 times in the NL. “For me, the biggest thing for him was just putting hitters away. He did a good job of that this spring.”
Eovaldi has had three games to sit and watch, taking in his new environment. He doesn’t anticipate any nerves on Friday, even as he makes his debut in the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry.
“I mean, it’s not Opening Day,” Eovaldi said. “We’ve already had a few games. It’s just the cold. That’s the only thing for me. I’m still trying to get used to that.”
A BAD TURN
Moments after getting his first hit of the season, an RBI single in the fifth inning, Didi Gregorius made his second baserunning blunder of the year. Gregorius made too wide a turn around first and when the throw from the outfield was cut off, he was tagged out trying to get back to the bag.
“You’ve got to read the throw and if the throw is low enough, you can’t take that wide of a turn,” Girardi said.
Gregorius, who drew criticism from Girardi when he was thrown out trying to steal third to end the eighth inning on Opening Day, said he thought he could take second if the throw from the outfield went to the plate.
“It’s trying to be in scoring position and trying to help the guys out and help myself out, too,” Gregorius said. “Get the small parts in the game.
“For me, I’m just trying to be aggressive on the bases. I slipped on that one and I can’t take it back. It happened and go forward from there.”
CC Sabathia did not back up third base in the sixth inning and that may have helped the Jays get a run when Carlos Beltran’s throw from the outfield hit a runner and skipped past Headley. But that’s something the Yankees may simply have to deal with this season with Sabathia, who missed much of last year after knee surgery.
“He went toward first, and it’s hard for him to get over there,” Girardi said. “With his knee issues, we might have to live with that from time to time. I’m not so sure he’s even going to make it over there. That’s the bottom line.”
BRINGING THE HEAT
With two straight nights of cold temperatures — it was 42 degrees at first pitch Thursday night — the Yankees have honed their techniques for staying warm when not on the field.
“We have the luxury of an indoor bullpen,” Dellin Betances said. “(Gary) Tuck (the bullpen coach), keeps the door a little bit open so we at least feel some of the cold weather. You just start stretching a few innings before you might come in and, once the adrenaline kicks in, you feel warm.”
After pitching the eighth inning Wednesday, Betances watched the Yankees’ big rally from the dugout, near one of the heating vents there. “There’s heat blowing on us there,” Betances said. “There’s about six vents and, at that point, you have your hoodie on.”
John Ryan Murphy started behind the plate Thursday, but was on the bench during Wednesday’s frigid affair. He wore a long-sleeve shirt under his jersey and the heavy Yankee coat issued to all the players.
“You switch back and forth — watch from the (dugout) railing as long as you can handle it and then back to the heater,” he said. “The vents keep it pretty nice.”
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