The Yankees have some interest in Rick Ankiel

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Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post hears that the Yankees “have shown some interest” in picking up Rick Ankiel.

Ankiel was designated for assignment by the Nationals this week after batting just .228/.282/.411 with five home runs and a .694 OPS through 171 plate appearances. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com wrote at the time that the Yankees “don’t seem interested” in Ankiel, but it’s possible things have changed over the past couple of days.

Brett Gardner will have right elbow surgery next week and is expected to miss the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Nick Swisher left last night’s game against the Athletics with a mild left hip flexor strain and is considered day-to-day. Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones have been surprisingly productive in left field and Dewayne Wise has played well as an extra outfielder, but the Yankees figure to be on the lookout for alternatives in the coming days and weeks.

Ankiel, 33, can play all three outfield positions and has some pop from the left side, so he figures to latch on somewhere even if the Yankees pass.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.