By Sweeny Murti
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OK, so you want to hear about players other than Alex Rodriguez? I get it.

But don’t try to alter the facts of the case. A-Rod is the highest-paid player in the history of the game. He was at one point considered the best player in the game. He was given the longest PED-related suspension in the game. And now, he’s playing with the Yankees for the first time in 17 months.

In other words, yes, it’s a big deal and it will be covered as such.

And keep in mind that anyone who is calling this a “circus” is not anyone that’s here, actually covering it. There have been many circus-like things related to A-Rod over the years, such as picketers standing outside his arbitration hearing. But all that’s being covered right now is a baseball player playing baseball. He gets more attention for all the reasons we stated above.

And, in case anyone has forgotten, we dissected every one of Derek Jeter’s at-bats the last two spring trainings as he came back from an ankle injury.

A-Rod may only be a fallen star, but he was still a star at one point. And those types of players get extra ink. Always. And his importance to the 2015 Yankees is plain to see.

Meanwhile, in non A-Rod news:

Carlos Beltran will make his exhibition game debut Friday night. An elbow injury suffered in May bothered him all season and resulted in the worst year of his career.  The bone spur in his right elbow needed surgery, but he didn’t have it done until after the season. Why did he wait so long?  Why did he try to play through the injury rather than just head to the DL in May? Beltran explains:

Beltran said he started swinging a bat again in mid-December and knew immediately that he was better. After spending most of last season trying to figure out how to swing without pain, he can now work on how to swing like he used to.

*Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia won’t appear in a game until next week. The Yankees are taking it slow. At this point there is nothing they need to learn about either pitcher. They simply need to keep them healthy. There’s no use pushing either one in March.

*Didi Gregorius should be fun to watch at shortstop. “80 arm” is how one of his former coaches described him to me. That’s the highest rating on the 20-80 scout scale.

*Infield defense figures to be a strength for the Yankees this year. And that could help Sabathia, who gets ground-ball outs when he’s going well.

*I wonder if Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner will combine for more than the 60 steals they got a year ago. It certainly seems possible if Ellsbury isn’t needed to shift down in the order again. Is a combined 80-100 out of the question?

*Garrett Jones has the lefty swing that everybody thinks will mean big power at Yankee Stadium. The funny part about that? He’s never actually set foot in Yankee Stadium. All but 31 of his 854 major league games have been with NL teams.

*Nathan Eovaldi said he likes the way his splitter feels at this early stage. If that can be a good swing-and-miss pitch, it could drastically change his high hit totals and (relatively) low strikeout totals from a year ago.

*It’s been 80 degrees here every day this week.  Don’t hate me.  It’s just the way it is.

Follow Sweeny on Twitter @YankeesWFAN.


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