Tweet This, Hearty Farewells & Fortune Telling

Opening Day can be a majestic feeling. It’s a time of hope and sanctuary, combined with optimism and uncertainty. Every new campaign offers the prospect of wiping the slate clean and starting anew. Players open the season with barren stat lines waiting to be filled, while fans have the privilege of dreaming what could be once October swings around.

When the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders take the field this Thursday against the Syracuse Chiefs, they will do so with a new-look roster, a roster that could be exciting once all the pieces eventually come together.

One of the most rewarding aspects of spring can be for guys who finally earn that big break – a spot on the Opening Day roster. Earlier this week it was revealed that Dean Anna, due to a timely injury by New York’s, Brendan Ryan, had made the Yankees’ Opening Day roster. Anna is expected to relieve Derek Jeter at shortstop on days the future Hall of Famer has penciled in to sit. Yankees manager, Joe Giardi, said the club did not expect to release an announcement, but due to an untimely tweet, the Bronx Bombers had to make an adjustment to their press release schedule. Anna feels like he has rightfully earned a spot on the Yanks’ Opening Day roster, and he rightfully has. For more, click HERE.

While Anna had rightfully earned a spot on the 25-man roster, it could be short-lived as Ryan is expected to begin the year on the 15-day disabled list, but will likely be backdated a week, giving Anna a ticking clock of roughly a week after today’s game against Houston. As always, Brendan Kuty has the complete story HERE.

Anna wasn’t the only tough decision Girardi was forced to make. In fact, one of the more difficult rulings may have come when the Yanks’ skipper had to decide between Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte on the final infield slot. Solarte had a standout spring, batting .429 (18-for-42) while ripping two homers and adding nine RBIs to lead the club in hits while also tying for the lead in RBIs. According to Hoch, Anna will serve as the club’s primary backup to Jeter while Solarte will more than likely draw duty at second base (LINK).

The RailRiders’ organization would like to extend a hearty congratulation to long-time New Yorker and Yankee farmhand, Dellin Betances. Betances, after spending six games in Yankee pinstripes last season, learned earlier this week that he had earned a spot on the club’s Opening Day roster as a reliever. Betances’ hard work has apparently paid off after the hard-throwing Betances made the move from the RailRiders’ starting rotation in 2013 to the bullpen. Betances twirled a sparkling 12 1/3 innings pitched this spring earning a 0.73 ERA while impressing a lot of New York’s decision makers along the way.

It was also announced that after initially competing for the club’s fifth starter position, a job that was easily won by Michael Pineda, Vidal Nuno has claimed a spot on the Opening Day 25-man roster as well. Betances and Nuno will join a new-look relief corps that includes David Robertson, left-hander Matt Thornton and Shawn Kelly.  Giardi seems to enjoy the flexibility that his new-look bullpen possess, with a couple of guys that could give the Yanks multiple innings if need be.

“Our bullpen has some flexibility because three guys can really give you some good distance,” Girardi said, referring to Phelps, Warren and Nuno.”

For the complete write-up, click HERE.

Earlier this week it was announced that New York had signed veteran right-hander, Alfredo Aceves, to a minor league contract. According to multiple sources, Aceves is expected to begin the season with the RailRiders and could very well be an integral piece of the squad here in SWB.

Aceves, 31, originally signed a minor league deal with the Baltimore Orioles, but opted out of his contract on March 27.  Aceves has bounced around throughout his big league tour, earning service time with the Yankees from 2008-2010, including being an instrumental piece during the 2009 championship tour, before signing with the Boston Red Sox from 2011-‘13. Aceves has a career win-loss record of 16-14 while fighting his way to 3.94 ERA in 135 big league appearances.

Big league clubs are always looking for opportunities to stockpile their minor league systems in case a situation presents itself. The signing of Aceves could provide insurance for the Yankees if newly cemented Michael Pineda doesn’t pan out in the starting rotation, or simply serve as an insurance piece in case of an injury. Jorge Castillos has the story on the Aceves on the acquisition HERE.

Speaking of Pineda, it appears velocity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Pineda, who prior to undergoing tommy john surgery in 2011, appears more focused on making quality pitches and working hitters at the plate, rather than over-throwing. Pineda spent the offseason working on his craft while developing his repertoire of pitches and it appears it has really paid dividends. Checkout how Pineda’s approach on the bump has changed HERE.

Life in the minor leagues can be difficult at times, especially for relief pitchers that are on the fridge of making the major league club, and the glitz and glamour that comes with it. It can be a lot of lost nights, shuttling between the Triple-A and Major League ranks, and countless nights wading through airport security.

For right-hander Jim Miller, life over the last couple of years has been just that: hectic. Miller pitched in SWB throughout the 2013 campaign working his way to a 3-5 win-loss record, tossing 63.1 innings pitched. Miller signed with the Yankees after spending life in baseball’s version of Davey Jones’ locker, before eventually agreeing to terms on a minor league contract in January of 2013. Miller appeared in just one game in 2013 for the Bronx Bombers, tossing 1 1/3 while issuing three base hits and allowing three earned runs. Miller’s big league time includes service days with Baltimore (’08), Colorado (’11), Oakland (’12) and New York (’13), totaling 48 games while pitching to an ERA of 2.78.

Miller will continue his long odyssey back to New York this season when he begins the grind of the season here in SWB. The Times-Leader’s, Paul Sokoloski, turned out an excellent read on Miller and some of the struggles and adjustments the right-hander has made throughout the offseason and in camp. We highly suggest you checkout Sokoloski’s feature on Miller by clicking HERE.

Speaking of feel-good stories, it’s no surprise almost everyone here NEPA is excited for the opportunity to see hometown-product, Russ Canzler, on a day-to-day basis. Life for Canzler is different these days as the former International League MVP tries to make his way back to the bigs, this time as a New York Yankee. For Sokoloski’s latest piece on Canzler, click HERE.

With the RailRiders Opening Day just a couple of sunsets away, don’t let the lack of baseball here in NEPA bring you down. Here’s a parting gift from us here at Porcupines in Pinstripes as the NJ.com’s, Jorge Castillo, provides one final look at the Yankees’ Opening Day lineup and bench HERE.

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