Yankees Notes: Luis Gil cracks rotation, Oswaldo Cabrera to slot in at third?

Here are the latest Yankees notes as spring training rolls on…

Luis Gil named fifth starter

With ace Gerrit Cole missing the first few months due to nerve inflammation in his right elbow, the Yankees have an opening in their starting rotation to begin the season.

Aaron Boone announced prior to Sunday’s game against the Pirates that young right-hander Luis Gil will receive the first opportunity, beating out fellow top prospect Will Warren and journeyman Luke Weaver.

Gil is heading into his first full season coming off Tommy John surgery, and the former top prospect impressed with his strong spring showing.

The 25-year-old allowed two runs in four innings of work his last time out, but overall he’s showcased tremendous stuff, pitching to a 2.31 ERA while striking out 20 batters across five outings.

“Obviously, you never want to see Gerrit go down, but we’re excited about the people who have emerged and legitimately put their name in that conversation up until late,” Boone said.

“The way Luis has been throwing the ball from the jump, he’s certainly earned that with how he’s performed. We continue to be excited about what he can be as a starting pitcher.”

Gil made his big-league debut during the COVID-shortened season, and he posted a 3.06 ERA across six starts.

The latest on DJ LeMahieu

With Opening Day less than a week away, it seems that the window for LeMahieu to avoid the IL to start the season has officially closed.

The Yanks skipper told reporters on Sunday afternoon that the 35-year-old is being considered a “long shot” for Thursday’s matchup with the Houston Astros.

LeMahieu is dealing with what the team has said is a “pretty significant” bone bruise he suffered after fouling a ball off his right foot in the Yankees’ spring training win over the Toronto Blue Jays last week.

The oft-injured infielder has been progressing well as he works his way back, but it appears he still has a ways to go before he’s able to make his return to the lineup.

LeMahieu had gotten off to a slow start at the plate as he looks to bounce back from a disappointing 2023 showing, hitting just .222 with a double and three RBI across 10 spring games.

Mar 10, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees infielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) hits a single against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field.Mar 10, 2024; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees infielder Oswaldo Cabrera (95) hits a single against the Atlanta Braves during the fifth inning at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

LeMahieu’s replacement?

With LeMahieu more than likely missing time to begin the regular season, Boone told reporters that he’s comfortable turning to Oswaldo Cabrera to fill in at third base for the time being.

The 25-year-old struggled mightily early on in camp, but he’s been swinging a hot bat of late, homering for the second consecutive game on Saturday against the Phillies.

“I’m excited he’s swinging the bat well the last two weeks,” Boone told Steve Kornacki of MLB.com. “He was struggling a little but offensively coming on the heels of last year when it was a struggle for him offensively, getting some traction here over the last two weeks is nice.

“He’s really valuable defensively. He’s been taking good at-bats and has a little bit of a presence with the bat now, which can be very valuable. It’s been good to see.”

Cabrera posted just a .574 OPS across 115 big-league games last season, but perhaps he’ll be able to carry his strong start to the spring over to the regular season as he fills in at the hot corner.

“I’m trying to get more consistency,” Cabrera told Kornacki. “I like where my swing’s at so much and the progress off of all we’ve been doing since the offseason. I’m excited for what’s coming.”

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