New Yankees Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann make their debuts
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BRADENTON, Fla. -- The Yankees' Big 3 made their debut Wednesday afternoon and the early returns were promising.
Which, of course, means absolutely nothing insofar as projecting toward the regular season.
Still, from Joe Girardi's perspective, he had to take positives from watching centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury get on base three times at the leadoff spot and score a run courtesy of a single by catcher Brian McCann.
Carlos Beltran, the third member of the triumvirate signed to a combined $283 million in contracts over the winter to boost the Yankees' offense, had a quiet day, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout in the Bombers' 6-5 loss to the Pirates in the Grapefruit League opener for both clubs.
"We have the ability to score a lot more runs this year," Girardi said afterward. "That's why we went and got them."
Ellsbury, signed to a seven-year, $153-million deal, went 1-for-1 with two walks. He led off the first against lefthander Francisco Liriano and drew a walk. Yangervis Solarte, subbing for the ill Eduardo Nuñez at short and a long-shot candidate to win a reserve infield spot, singled to move Ellsbury to second. After Beltran fouled out to former Yankees catcher Russell Martin, McCann took Liriano's 2-and-0 pitch the other way, lining an RBI single to left.
"It's exciting getting on base, having these types of hitters hitting behind you," Ellsbury said. "It's one big reason to sign over here. But right now, it's just Day One, guys are just trying to see pitches, just trying to get some of that soreness out of the way the first week or two."
Ellsbury walked again in the second and scored on Solarte's two-run homer off Edinson Volquez to make it 4-0.
"Typically I like to see as many pitches as I can in spring training, but at the same time I want to be aggressive," Ellsbury said. "It worked out great. I saw a lot of pitches my first two at-bats . . . It's all about seeing a lot of pitches right now."
McCann, who signed a five-year, $85-million deal, used "five tools" in describing Ellsbury.
"He can do everything on a baseball field," McCann said. "It's going to be big to have him at the top of the order."
The 36-year-old Beltran, brought in on a three-year, $45- million deal, has been through far too many spring trainings to worry about results.
"For me, I just want to feel solid at the plate, feel like my lower body's working," he said. "As long as I'm feeling that is [what matters]. In spring training you want to do well, you want to get good results, but at the same time I try not to focus on that. I try to focus more on the way I feel at the plate."
Beltran, having spent most of his career in the National League, has seen as much of McCann as anyone and said the Yankees chose wisely.
"I think he's a great acquisition," Beltran said. "The Yankees needed a catcher, they needed an offensive catcher, and he's also good defensively. So I think he's going to give the Yankees what they're looking for."
McCann, who spent his entire nine-year career with the Braves before this season, called getting on the field with some of his fellow free-agent headliners was "awesome."
"I was a little nervous, but it felt good," McCann said. "Any time you put on another uniform going out for the first time, you get those butterflies. To get that out of the way, get that first hit, it was nice."