With Mark Teixeira’s injury sending shivers up the New York Yankees’ collective spines. With Nick Swisher, the Yankees’ backup first baseman since 2009, gone to the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees have a gaping hole to fill if Teixeira is out for more than the two weeks the Yankees are currently claiming.
The Yankees do have Dan Johnson but he is not someone you want to see every day at first base, even if for a couple of weeks, in the regular season. There is one wild card in Yankees camp at the moment and that is Juan Rivera who is currently trying to win the fourth outfielder spot. Matt Diaz and Melky Mesa are also in competition and the loss of Curtis Granderson means at least two of those three could open the year with the Yankees. Rivera, however, has a leg up on Diaz in that he can play first base as he spent most of last season there with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Diaz has only played two games at first base and hasn’t played there since 2007. Rivera, however, played 54 games at first last season with the Dodgers and has played 106 games at first in his career. Rivera’s versatility and Teixeira’s injury could mean Rivera has won the job by default unless the Yankees plan on going another route.
Teixeira’s injury is a cause for concern, even if it is just for a couple of weeks in spring training. It will cause the Yankees to deviate, even if ever so slightly, from their original plan of taking the best players from spring competitions and instead force them to take players who can play numerous positions. The need for having players who can play more than one position is further elevated by the Yankees carrying Travis Hafner, who can’t play any defensive position at all, on the roster. For now, it looks like Rivera and Mesa might be heading north with the Yankees and Diaz is the odd man out.