TAMPA — Greg Weissert’s sweeping slider can buckle hitters’ knees, but Wednesday it was his sinker that made a batter fall over while swinging.
The Yankees bullpen hopeful threw a 95 mph sinker to Cardinals outfielder Moises Gomez, and as the pitch ran in on the right-handed hitter, Gomez swung through it and fell down in one motion.
“Dude, he’s freaking nasty, man,” Gerrit Cole said of Weissert. “He keeps getting better.
“I’ve never seen anybody fall over trying to hit a fastball. … My opinion was he either kept trying to chase it in and then lost his footing or he wasn’t sure if his shin was going to make it through the swing until he lost his footing.”
Weissert, the Long Island and Fordham product, made his MLB debut last August with a wild outing against the Athletics.
But the right-handed reliever only got better from there and now has a chance to make the Yankees bullpen out of camp, especially if Tommy Kahnle (biceps tendinitis) has to start the season on the injured list.
With a closed set position that starts with his back nearly facing the plate, Weissert is an uncomfortable at-bat for opposing hitters.
“He’s nasty, man,” Aaron Judge said. “You can talk about the slider all you want, but he’s got a great sinker, good feel for his changeup. And then when you mix in that slider that’s basically starting behind me as a righty, you’re kind of at that point just trying to guess for a pitch and hopefully you guess right.”
Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe have only been in the same starting lineup once so far this spring, but the captain has been impressed by what he has seen from the club’s top prospect.
Asked whether the 21-year-old shortstop could potentially make the jump to the majors out of camp despite having just 22 games of experience at Triple-A, Judge said he was not a scout.
“But I think he’s got all the makeup tools,” Judge said. “He checks a lot of boxes defensively, offensively. He’s a tough at-bat. He’s got the speed, which is a big factor now into the game. “My thing’s always been, if you’re the best player, it shouldn’t matter your age, you should be up helping the New York Yankees. It doesn’t matter if you’re 19 or 41, if you’re the best guy for the job, you should be playing.”
Shortstop Oswald Peraza (lower left leg discomfort) participated in live batting practice Wednesday.
He “should be good” to return to the lineup on Thursday, according to manager Aaron Boone.
Nestor Cortes pitched three innings of live batting practice and will throw one more session before he gets into a game.
The left-hander is behind the rest of the rotation because of the hamstring strain he entered camp with, “but he’s in a good spot,” Boone said.
The Yankees revealed a shift that was as dramatic as the new rules allow, putting center fielder Oswaldo Cabrera in shallow right field — leaving them with just two outfielders — with Clay Holmes on the mound and the left-handed hitting Nolan Gorman at the plate.
“It’s something we’d definitely consider in certain situations,” Boone said, estimating they might use it five times per season.
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