Juan Rivera And Ronnier Mustelier Could Make April Easier For New York Yankees

By Eduardo Guerrero

The list of New York Yankees players currently injured and those coming back from injuries could easily make any All-Star team.  Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson will miss all of April and possibly some of May with their respective injuries.  Derek Jeter will finally make his spring debut at shortstop tomorrow after his ankle injury in last year’s playoffs.  Mariano Rivera has made just one spring appearance as he continues his comeback from the ACL injury that ended his 2012 season in May.  Finally, C.C. Sabathia has yet to make a spring start as he continues rounding back into shape following surgery this past offseason to remove bone spurs from his left elbows.

The Yankees are optimistic that Jeter, Rivera and Sabathia will perform at the All-Star levels they are used to and all three will be ready for Opening Day.  However, they will still need to replace the production of Granderson and Teixeira, who combined to hit 67 homeruns and drive in 190 runs.  If the team can get the spring production of offseason free agent addition Juan Rivera and minor leaguer Ronnier Mustelier in April, the team may be able to survive the time without their two sluggers.

Before today’s exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Rays, Rivera has been one of the Yankees hottest hitters, hitting for a .346 average.  Signed in the offseason to compete with Matt Diaz for the fourth outfield spot and right-handed DH, Rivera has out-performered his main competition.  Diaz has hit just .190 this spring.  Rivera could start the season as the Yankees left fielder, with Brett Gardner (who has been equally hot as Rivera, hitting .400 this spring) will replace Granderson in center field.

Meanwhile, Musterlier has been the main surprise of Yankees spring training so far.  The Cuban defector has hit .300 so far with a .391 on-base percentage.  The Cuban defector has spent the past two seasons in the Yankees minor league system and has hit at every level.  In 2011, he hit for a combined .356 average with the Yankees rookie and single A team and then hit a combined .314 with 15 homeruns for the team’s AA and AAA teams.  Yankees manager Joe Girardi is testing Mustelier out defensively at third base and he should also give him a look at first base.  If the Cuban hitter can show he can field either position, Kevin Youkilis can be used opposite from him on the field.

While the Yankees injury news is enough to make fans jump off a cliff, they should have faith in knowing the team does have options to help out the cause.

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