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Sunday, March 16, 2014
Manny Banuelos headed to the minors

By Wallace Matthews

TAMPA, Fla. -- Before spring training began, Yankees GM Brian Cashman raised the possibility that Manny Banuelos, the 23-year-old lefty coming off Tommy John surgery, might make the major-league club as the second lefty out of the bullpen with strong showing in camp.

But with a full two weeks left to go -- and with a 63.00 ERA accumulated in two appearances totaling one inning -- the Yankees have decided that the minor leagues is still the place for ManBan. Cashman announced before today's game that Banuelos was being optioned. His first stop will be the Class A Tampa Yankees, so he can take advantage of pitching in warmer weather.

"Whatever team we assign today, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the team he’s going to be with [for most of the season],'' Cashman said earlier. "We’re going to take into account weather and everything else and what’s best. We’ll see how the rest of minor league camp goes before the actual placement will take place.”

Banuelos was charged with four earned runs in his last outing on Friday against the Twins, but he was victimized by at least one soft hit and two of the runs were allowed to score by Fred Lewis, who relieved him. And the Yankees say Banuelos' fastball has been clocked at 93 MPH. Before those two outings, he had not pitched in a game since 2012.

"Obviously the arm strength’s there,'' Cashman said. "I think he’s a little rusty, which is understandable.''

Banuelos seemed disappointed at having to pack up and re-locate across to the minor league complex this morning, but tried to put the best face on it.

"I think it’s the best thing,'' he said. "Like they say, I’ve got to make progress ... just keep pitching. Get all my pitches to where I can help the team.''

Cashman said the Yankees still viewed Banuelos as a starter over the long-term. And he would not rule out the possibility that Banuelos might still make it to the Bronx sometime this season.

"Like anything else, anybody knocking the bats out of everyone’s hands, especially on the Double-A or Triple-A level, is going to be on the radar to help us,'' he said.