Sources told ESPNNewYork.com back in February that there was a slight chance left-handed pitcher Manny Banuelos could come into spring training and win a job in the bullpen as the second lefty behind Matt Thornton.
After just two appearances, there doesn’t seem to be any chance of that happening.
Banuelos took the mound for the second time this spring on Friday, facing the Minnesota Twins in Tampa. He entered the game in the 6th inning and loaded with bases with a single and two walks. He was able to get a strikeout, but a ground-rule double that plated a pair of runs was where he day ended.
Fred Lewis replaced him and gave up a pair of runs that were charged to Banuelos, putting him at four earned runs on the day, seven total this spring in one full inning worth of work.
Banuelos struggled with him control from the start, obviously, with the two walks.
“I think at the start it looked like he was scattered a little bit, and then he found it,” Yankees manager for the weekend Rob Thomson said. “They got some soft hits off him, too. I’m just, for me, I’m just happy to see him out there.
“He’s been out for a long time. He hasn’t had many outings. So I’m just happy that he’s out there and he’s throwing the ball. He’s going to have success because he’s got a good arm and he’s a tough kid, and we’ve just got to wait a while, that’s all.”
Coming back from an elbow surgery that he underwent almost two years ago, it was a long-shot for Banuelos to actually make the Yankees’ bullpen out of spring training. He first appearance last week was his first game action since the surgery, so he still has a ways to go in his comeback.
Banuelos is rated as one of the best pitching prospects in the Yankees’ farm system, and as a projected starter — a possible No. 2 or 3 — it could be key for him to pan out the way people think he should.
He’ll most likely start the season in Triple-A Scranton, and if we see him at all this season, I would be that it’s at the end of the season when the Yankees make their September call-ups.