The big key for Yankees: They're healthy

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira work out with

Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira work out with the team at Steinbrenner Field on the morning of Feb. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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TAMPA, Fla. -- A tribute video played and ended, with soaked fans getting a chance to say goodbye to Derek Jeter one final time at Steinbrenner Field.

Then everyone bolted as quickly as possible.

Torrential rains canceled the Yankees' final spring training game of 2014, Jeter's last with the club.

It was an odd ending but overall a successful spring training as far as the Yankees were concerned, especially compared to last season, when the injury bug hit early and never let up.

Forget the batting averages of Jeter (.137) and Mark Teixeira (.086). The Yankees are healthy.

"Last year, we left and we were missing the middle of our order, the end of our order, the top of our order,'' Joe Girardi said of injuries that took out Jeter, Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, to name a few. "This year we leave with pretty much [the] order that we expected to be there. I think it was a very productive spring, a very competitive spring. I really liked what I saw from our team. I feel good about it.''

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It starts for real Tuesday night in Houston when CC Sabathia faces the Astros, followed by Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova.

Masahiro Tanaka, signed to a seven-year, $155-million contract in the offseason, will make his debut Friday in Toronto. He'll be followed Saturday by one of the standout performers of spring training, righthander Michael Pineda, who outpitched David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuño to claim the fifth-starter job.

The team, while healthy, leaves Florida with plenty of questions. Most of all, there is the infield, the reason a deal of some kind for a better option, particularly at third base, can't be ruled out.

No one knows how effective Kelly Johnson can be as a mostly everyday third baseman, what's realistic to expect on an everyday basis from the 39-year-old Jeter at short, whether injury-prone second baseman Brian Roberts can stay healthy and just how Teixeira's wrist will hold up at the plate and at first base.

On the surface, the bullpen has a lot of quality arms, but there's no obvious setup man for closer David Robertson, himself a question mark as he takes over for Mariano Rivera.

Phelps, Warren and Nuño have primarily been starters most of their careers, though Phelps has proved to be an effective reliever in spurts. Dellin Betances wowed throughout spring training with a fastball that topped out at 97 mph, but he is inexperienced at the big-league level.

Still, the outfield looks solid, the rotation pitched well and catcher Brian McCann jelled rapidly with the pitching staff.

"We have a lot of talent, but you have to perform on the field. That's the bottom line,'' Jeter said. "I think everyone tries to have predictions where they feel each team is going to finish every year. But you have to perform on the field. I like the guys that we have.''

Jeter, like Girardi, mentioned the team's overall health.

"We're healthy for the most part leaving spring training. That's always important,'' Jeter said. "The key for most teams is to stay healthy, but you've got to do your job on the field. It's a long season, and I think it takes a little while before you really get a great feel for what the team is capable of doing. But I'm pretty optimistic about this group.''

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The primary reason?

"A lot of good guys, a lot of good personalities,'' Jeter said. "A lot of guys that like to work hard, take a lot of pride in their jobs. I just like what I've seen so far, but we have to carry it over to the season. But up until this point, I think everyone is excited to get underway.''

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