One of the biggest stories for the New York Yankees this Spring Training was the backup catcher competition. The team has officially announced Francisco Cervelli has won the job. Now, attention will turn to whether Austin Romine or J.R. Murphy will be traded.
In the midst of this story, injury has ignited another roster spot competition, this time at shortstop. We all know 2014 will be Derek Jeter’s last season – the Black Plague couldn’t stop him from starting. But his backup Brendan Ryan is not going to be ready for Opening Day. According to Brendan Kuty of the Star Ledger, Ryan is going to start the season on the 15-day disabled list after suffering an oblique strain and a pinched nerve in his upper back.
The injury to Ryan has opened the door for Dean Anna to make the big league roster for Opening Day, but the utility man must prove he has the defensive chops to assume Ryan’s role with the team.
In Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, he did just that. In the first inning, he made a beautiful play on a worm-burner to his right, starting an inning-ending double play. Two innings later, he did an outstanding job staying down on a short hop to his left. That play, too, would have started a double play but Yangervis Solarte threw wide to first base and pulled Mark Teixeira off the bag. Nothing came of the bad throw, however.
Two batters later, Anna started another inning-ending double play.
Anna has had 37 at bats this spring, posting a .297/.409/.324 slash line with four RBIs, six walks and a stolen base. Those numbers aren’t overwhelmingly impressive, but they’re definitely good enough to make the major league roster as a backup.
Combined with his defensive skills, Anna is definitely capable of filling Ryan’s role as an infield insurance policy/late game defensive replacement.