CLEVELAND -- Infielder Corban Joseph is set to make his major league debut on Monday afternoon as the Yankees square off against the Cleveland Indians in a traditional doubleheader. With the Yanks in the midst of a 17-games-in-16-days stretch and integral players still attempting to make their way off of the disabled list, manager Joe Girardi felt that it would be most prudent to use the extra roster spot he's allowed for a traditional twinbill on a position player, with the goal of keeping his core as healthy as possible.
“We thought that we needed the 26th player to be a position player,” said Girardi prior to Game 1. “He will start at first in the first game and our plan is to start him at second in the second game. We are just trying to take care of our guys. We’re in a real long stretch and we don’t want to wear them out and get them hurt, so Corbin is probably going to play two [games] today.”
With the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2013, Joseph has hit .270 with four home runs, eight doubles and 10 runs batted in. The 24-year-old has played just three games at first base during his minor league career, spending the majority of his time at second.
Girardi feels Joseph’s bat and willingness to take a walk (he’s taken 67 walks compared to 81 strikeouts over the last two seasons) will justify any worries.
“I don’t think [he has] a whole lot of experience [at first],” said Girardi. “It’s something that we talked about and thought that it might be a good idea—getting him some experience there just because of what’s going on, with Tex being hurt and the way he swings the bat—we like the way he swings the bat. It might be a place that he might be able to play.”
This is technically Joseph’s second stint with the big-league club as he was promoted on April 30, when the team placed Kevin Youkilis (lumbar spine sprain) on the disabled list. However, he was optioned to the minors two days later without appearing in a game.
“Things happen for a reason,” said Joseph of his debut at first base. “I’m fairly comfortable at first ... It’s just a little different in terms of getting back to the bag.”
Given Joseph’s experience in the infield, the Yankees are not concerned about his ability to throw and catch the baseball. His infield prowess should also provide for seamless play in bunt situations. When it comes to more nuanced moves like pick-off situations, however, Girardi is interested to see how the rookie will react. If Joseph’s confidence in his abilities carries any weight, however, his manager should have nothing to worry about.
“I had a coach named Tony Franklin who always said if you can play baseball, you can play any position,” said Joseph. “All I have to do is catch the ball. I’m just excited to be here. It’s awesome to be a part of this and I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”