CLEVELAND — Whether he is back or not, Joe Girardi is impressed by the Yankees’ future.
“I think it’s really bright. When you look at the youth and the talent of the youth that is here now, the youth that is really close and the youth that might be a year or two away, I think it’s extremely bright,’’ Girardi said before his club closed out an ALDS comeback with a 5-2 victory in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Progressive Field.
Gary Sanchez (24), Aaron Judge (25) and Luis Severino (23) were All-Stars this season. Infielder Gleyber Torres, who turns 21 in December, is considered by some as a can’t-miss prospect even after having Tommy John surgery. The Yankees are wild about Estevan Florial, who played for Single-A Tampa this season at 19.
A pedestrian season at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for Clint Frazier hasn’t dimmed the Yankees’ opinion of the 24-year-old outfielder. Right-handed pitcher Chance Adams, 24, went 11-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts for SWB. Miguel Andujar, 23, batted .317 for SWB in 59 games and could replace free agent Todd Frazier at third.
“I think the Yankees are set up for a really good run and there are a lot of things that have to go into that. Health has to play an important role, but you look at the impact players that are youthful that we already have, that’s big,’’ Girardi said. “You are not talking about seven, eight and nine hitters. You are talking about middle-of-the-order hitters that are big and can be extremely productive. I think the future is very bright.’’
Edwin Encarnacion returned to the Indians lineup after missing Games 3 and 4 with an ankle injury suffered in Game 2, but Girardi didn’t plan on pitching the right-handed hitting DH differently.
“We are going to approach him the same way we did in Game 1 and Game 2 — carefully,’’ said Girardi before Encarnacion went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, including the first out of the ninth inning against closer Aroldis Chapman.
Girardi managed against John Farrell the past five years inside of baseball’s most intense rivalry, but that didn’t stop him from sending Farrell a message Wednesday when the Red Sox fired him.
“I feel for him, I have been there,’’ said Girardi, who was axed after the 2006 season while managing the Marlins. “My heart goes out to him because I know how much he puts into the job.’’
Indians manager Terry Francona, who had Farrell on his Red Sox staff as the pitching coach, said Farrell eventually will bounce back.
“Knowing John the way I do, he will land on his feet and he will be in a better position than he was before,’’ Francona said.