NEW YORK (AP) — With Alex Rodriguez banished for a year, the New York Yankees will turn their attention to Kelly Johnson & Co. at third base.
The Yankees didn't respond at all Friday when Rodriguez gave up his legal fight and accepted his season-long suspension resulting from Major League Baseball's Biogenesis drug probe.
"It's something that seems to have been settled, and we don't have him until 2015," manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday. "We'll focus on this year this year, and we'll deal with next year next year."
Johnson played third base last season for the first time in his big league career, making 12 starts and 16 appearances. He has spent most of his career at second.
"We've got Kelly Johnson along with a cast of characters that are going to compete for that spot from the right side," general manager Brian Cashman said. "We look for it to be a platoon situation, a lefty-righty situation. We're open-minded to affordable options that might become available via trade, but realistically the answers that we will have are going to come with what's on our current roster here or at (Triple-A) Scranton."
The left-handed-hitting Johnson had a .218 average with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 280 at-bats for Tampa Bay against right-handed pitchers last year and a .291 average with no homers and eight RBIs in 86 at-bats versus lefties.
Eduardo Nunez and Brendan Ryan are right-handed-hitting options on the roster. Scott Sizemore, limited to two games during the last two seasons because of knee injuries, will be at spring training on a minor league contract as will Russ Canzler, who has never played third base in the major leagues.
"Hopefully, the longer Joe Girardi has a chance with his staff to run out a number of guys, the more comfortable we'll get with those options," Cashman said. "Right now, it's a question mark. I think our infield is a question mark. We've got two guys coming back from injuries, but third base is still a developing area that we certainly hope over time we'll get comfort from."
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