TAMPA, Fla. — Midway through spring training, Austin Romine believed he was having the best camp of his career in pinstripes.
The Yankees agreed.
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Romine, 27, selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2007 draft, was named the winner of the backup catcher’s competition by Joe Girardi on Thursday.
“I thought he played very well defensively. I thought he swung the bat pretty good as well,” Girardi said.
Given a chance to win the backup job last spring, Romine was beaten out by John Ryan Murphy.
“What I saw from Ro from this year to last year spring training is he didn’t press this year,” Girardi said. “I thought he came in much more relaxed and I think going through what he did last year, fighting for a job, probably helped him.”
Bullpen filling out
Girardi announced that righthanders Johnny Barbato and Luis Cessa have made the 25-man Opening Day roster, leaving one bullpen spot open. Barbato had a 1.74 ERA and earned the James P. Dawson Award, given annually to the outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training.
“It’s surreal, honestly,” the 23-year-old Barbato, acquired by the Yankees for reliever Shawn Kelley before the 2015 season, said of making the club. “I’ve been working hard for six years for this.”
Cessa, who had a 2.70 ERA in five games, could be in line for the swingman role secured by Bryan Mitchell before he broke his toe Wednesday.
One to go
Righty Kirby Yates has a good chance of landing the final bullpen spot. Yates, who has rediscovered the slider that made him an effective reliever for the Rays two seasons ago, has not allowed a run in seven games.
“I’m coming off a bad, bad year,” said Yates, who had a 7.97 ERA with the Rays last season. “I’m coming off a year where I was not a major league-caliber pitcher. My goal coming into the spring was to prove that I am, more or less not for them but for myself, and I’ve done that. I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to this spring, whether I made the team or not.”