Brian Cashman leaving no stone unturned in search of better Yankees
WASHINGTON -- With a plastic cast on his right wrist, Mark Teixeira took ground balls at first base at Nationals Park Friday before the Yankees' exhibition game against the Nationals. He's still hoping for a May 1 return. Or maybe May 15.
But Lyle Overbay started there against Washington in the fourth day of what he and the Yankees were calling a tryout. The 36-year-old veteran went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the Yankees' 4-2 win.
After the game, Overbay was told he had made the team. He will be the Yankees' first baseman against righthanded pitching until Teixeira returns.
Or until general manager Brian Cashman finds somebody he likes better.
"My job is to find players who are better than what we have,'' Cashman said earlier in the day. "Always.''
Cashman said Overbay did "OK'' in his tryout after being released by the Red Sox. He went 3-for-16 in four games with the Yankees and showed the best glovework of any of the lefthanded hitters the team has used there in spring training.
But Cashman is working like a mad scientist -- signing players, trading for players, cutting players, trying different combinations, bobbing, weaving. All on crutches or on a scooter after his March 4 skydiving accident.
If a player doesn't have a big-money contract, a bad start or someone else popping up as an option could make him a former Yankee quickly this season. Just ask Juan Rivera, who played much of spring training at first base, received a $100,000 roster bonus Tuesday and was released Thursday after Overbay became available.
"You have to find a way and you mix and match,'' Cashman said. "And if it doesn't work, out with the old and in with the new and we'll find something else. That's just the way it works.''
On Friday, Cashman told four players they had made the team for Monday's season opener against the Red Sox. Along with Overbay, outfielder Ben Francisco, infielder Jayson Nix and reliever Shawn Kelley will be wearing pinstripes Monday.
Teixeira has been taking grounders and swinging one-handed since Sunday; he is scheduled to see the doctor Monday to see if his cast can be removed. He has a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist that has a 70 percent chance of healing on its own and a 30 percent chance of needing season-ending surgery.
"Those wrists are very tricky,'' Cashman said. "They said 70/30, but it just feels historically like it's 30/70.''
That's why Cashman has scoured the camps for someone who can catch the ball at first, which Rivera couldn't do very well.
Cashman's not done scouring.
"I call it the Statue of Liberty play,'' he said. "Give us your tired, your weak, your poor . . . It's the American way, buddy. It's right on the plaque on the Statue of Liberty.''