<
>

Spring Training Day 17: Stephen Drew named starting second baseman

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Stephen Drew seemed like the odds-on favorite to be the Yankees' starting second baseman. Now, it is official.

"Our plan is it for it to be Stephen," Joe Girardi said when asked if there is a competition for the position. "We signed him to be our second baseman."

Drew hit .162 last season, which made him less than a fan favorite in New York or Boston, where he started 2014 after signing in late May. A source told ESPN New York that the Yankees plan on having a short leash with Drew if he still can't hit when the regular season starts. This means that while, barring injury, Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder are not fighting for the starting position, they are trying to box each other out to be the first man called up if Drew falters.

"If anyone were to struggle, we would probably make a change," Girardi said. "That's the nature of our game. We didn't sign him to struggle. We signed him to play at a high level, and we expect that he will."

Drew has one hit in eight at-bats entering Tuesday's game at Ed Smith Stadium against the Orioles. Both Pirela and Refsnyder entered with a team-leading five hits.

"I think he got behind, and it was difficult for him to catch up when you miss spring training," Girardi said of Drew, who hasn't had a full spring training in three years. "When you slowly progress into playing and then you have a rushed spring training, in a sense. He wasn't there very long."

The Yankees signed Drew to a one-year, $5 million deal later in the winter, thinking it was an upgrade to the two young players they had on the roster.

Drew is making the transition to second from short, but Girardi thinks that should be no problem based on his time there last year.

"I think what we saw him do last year and the adjustments he was able to make, we felt pretty comfortable that they would just continue to take place," Girardi said. "I think one of the toughest things is the double-play ball because it is a different throw. He has his back to the first baseman. He doesn't see the runner. He got enough reps we felt pretty comfortable."

Judge-ment Day: Top prospect Aaron Judge gets the start in right Tuesday. Here is the Yankees' lineup for today's game against the Orioles: