DUNEDIN, Fla. -- If you listen closely enough to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, it is easy to imagine Esmil Rogers being the upset winner as the team's fifth starter in the wake of Chris Capuano's injury. Girardi seems very intrigued by the 29-year-old's talent.
“His stuff is crisp, to me,” Girardi said before Rogers threw three scoreless innings in the Yankees' 1-0 loss to Rogers' old club, the Blue Jays, on Saturday. “He seems more consistent. You have to remember this guy was a position player converted to a pitcher so there are some mechanical things that he has continued to work on and he has really taken well to the slight adjustments that [pitching coach] Larry [Rothschild] has made.”
Rothschild has taught Rogers to be more steady with his glove. He used to hold his glove over his head to start his throwing motion. Now he holds his glove in front of him, like Masahiro Tanaka.
"I think it helps," Rogers said.
While the result looked good Saturday, the Jays did hit Rogers. On the first pitch he threw, former Yankee Russell Martin smashed a double off the left-field wall. One out later, Josh Donaldson smacked a single to left. Brett Gardner flung the ball home in time to get Martin, but it was not a strong beginning for Rogers. He allowed two more hits the rest of the way, but no runs. He struck out three and walked none.
Girardi claims he is not making any evaluations right now, but he did change his plans Saturday. Originally he was going to stay home for Michael Pineda's game at Steinbrenner Field, but he instead made the half-hour trip to see Rogers & Co.
Girardi said he probably won't make a decision on the fifth starter spot for another two weeks. But Rogers is a guy to keep an eye on.
“I don’t think it is fair to evaluate them until they get built up,” Girardi said. “They are getting to that point. I think the next start you really start paying attention because they will be up to 75 pitches. We are still trying to build them up.”