TAMPA, Fla. — Aaron Boone trotted out a lineup Thursday against the Pirates that looks like the one he might use on Opening Day March 29 at Toronto.
The lineup: Brett Gardner, Aaron Judge (DH), Giancarlo Stanton, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, Aaron Hicks, Greg Bird, Brandon Drury, Tyler Wade.
Yes, Wade over Neil Walker seems to be the way the Yankees are leaning at second base. Boone and general manager Brian Cashman made it clear when Walker came aboard Monday that he wasn’t going to be handed the starting job.
The reason? The Yankees are falling in love with Wade, who is hitting .310 after going 0-for-1 with two walks and making a pair of sparkling defensive plays in the Yankees’ 9-5 win.
“Another one of those days where he just opens your eyes with the dynamic he brings,” Boone said. “He’s a better player than I thought.”
Walker will make his spring training debut Friday night when he starts at first base against the Astros.
One wrinkle for March 29 is that the Blue Jays might start lefty J.A. Happ. Long Island’s Marcus Stroman has been ruled out of the opener because of shoulder inflammation. Wade bats lefthanded and Walker is a switch hitter.
Sanchez had a three-run homer to rightfield and a two-run double to right-center . . . Tyler Austin hit his fourth homer . . . Sonny Gray allowed three runs (two earned) and walked three in three innings. “I thought he nibbled a little bit,’’ Boone said . . . The Yankees will see Alex Rod riguez on Thursday in Fort Myers when he calls a game against the Twins for ESPN. Rodriguez, listed as a special adviser to Cashman, is part of ESPN’s new “Sunday Night Baseball” crew . . . Chance Adams (11.57 ERA) was sent to the minor-league camp.