DUNEDIN, Fla. -- OK, so Jose Ramirez is not going to be the Yankees' Opening Day starter, but you probably knew that already.
Thomas Neal won't start in right field, nor will Travis Hafner hit in the cleanup spot, and the next time Josh Johnson starts a game against the Yankees, the lineup will include names like Jeter and Cano and Ichiro.
There’s really not too much you can make out of the debacle the Yankees played Thursday against the Toronto Blue Jays, a game in which they took a 1-0 first-inning lead on Kevin Youkilis’ home run and were trailing 9-1 by the end of the inning nearly an hour later.
As even that noted optimist Joe Girardi was forced to admit, "This was a tough game to watch."
In fact, just about the only bright spot was Youkilis, who in addition to his home run tripled in the fifth inning, but to no avail. The Yankees got trounced, 17-5, in a game in which their pitchers allowed 10 walks and 13 hits, their fielders committed three errors and Francisco Cervelli, the front-runner to win the everyday catcher’s job, lost a pop fly in the sun, committed a passed ball and allowed two wild pitches to skip past him.
Still, Girardi was able to pick out some highlights -- the hitting of Youkilis, a fifth-inning at-bat by Hafner that ended in a sacrifice fly for the Yankees' fourth run of the game, and an eighth-inning double by Jose Pirela that drove in their fifth and final run.
There were even two Yankees pitchers, Josh Spence and Graham Stoneburner, who held the Blue Jays at bay, albeit after the horse had left the barn and the regulars had left the game.
The problem was that Ramirez, a live-armed right-hander whose praises Girardi had sung in the morning, had no clue how to locate home plate in the afternoon, and Adam Warren, who is expected to be the Yankees' starter-on-call in Triple-A Scranton in the event of emergency in the Bronx, was just as bad.
The two combined to allow 14 runs, all of them earned, on just six hits -- and nine walks. Ramirez, a 23-year-old who has never pitched above Single-A ball, got only one out, but it was Jose Bautista, who popped out to second with two runners on and looked like he wanted to snap his bat in half in rage.
Warren came into a tough spot -- bases loaded, one out -- and proceeded to walk the first batter he faced and allow five more runs on two doubles before striking out Bautista to end the inning.
"Ramirez just couldn’t find it today," Girardi said.
Struggling to find yet another positive, the manager mentioned that Ben Francisco swung the bat well -- he was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts -- and was only too happy to discuss Phil Hughes, whose first live BP session he had witnessed seven hours earlier back in Tampa.
In the meantime, all of the Yankees' veterans cleared out of the clubhouse essentially without speaking to anyone. Really, there was nothing constructive to be said.
"These games are a lot easier to wash away in March," said Girardi, an optimist to the end.