Part of the reason the Yankees were so good in April and much of May was because they were getting great performances from unexpected players. Like Vernon Wells, who was smacking the ball around to the tune of .300/.366/.544 in the season’s first month but came crashing back to Earth to hit .221/.250/.365 in May. Last night he went 0-for-4 in a horrendous loss to the Sox and that season-long OBP is now at an even .300.
Wells told the New York Post what it’s all about:
“I just have to ride it out,” Wells said, who went 0-for-4. “I know I can get back to where I was that first month or so, I just have to get back to it.”
If I’m the Yankees I want Wells to think that he can get back to where he was the first month. Indeed, I don’t want my players ever looking back over their career numbers to assess whether or not such things are likely or possible. I want them to do their job and feel like they’re capable of an All-Star performance every day out.
But we’re not Wells or the Yankees. And we all can look back and see that April was an anomaly. And that while he’s had some good seasons here or there, the new normal for Wells is a lot closer to what he’s hitting now than what he was hitting a month ago. Indeed, the best indicator of what a player is ever going to do is what he’s done a lot of recently.
It’s great for the Yankees that they got a great month out of the guy, but now it’s back to reality for Vernon Wells.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.
Veteran Omar Infante has spent the overwhelming majority of his career as an infielder, but the Tigers plan to give him some playing time in center field this spring. The Tigers’ center field situation is still murky and adding more versatility would increase Infante’s odds of making the roster.
Infante, 35, signed a minor league deal with the Tigers in December. He played 39 games for the Royals last season, batting .239/.279/.321 in 149 plate appearances while playing second base exclusively. Infante last played in the outfield in 2010 with the Braves, and last played center field specifically in ’09 with the Braves.
The Tigers currently have Mikie Mahtook, Tyler Collins, and JaCoby Jones at the top of their center field depth chart. It is not what one would call “optimal.”