Jenifer Langosch reports that Tyler Yates is "very much in the mix" for a spot in the bullpen, although she also describes him as "once a successful Major League pitcher," so who knows. Or maybe I just blinked and missed that time. Anyway, it looks like Yates has made an impression:
"He is so far ahead of everybody else, it's unbelievable," pitching coach Ray Searage said this week. "It looks like he can pitch tomorrow. Sometimes I have to yank that chain on his neck and say, 'Relax.' He's trying to make up for time that he lost. No. Live for the moment. Don't think about having to make up for stuff that happened in the past. That's over with."
Good for Yates - the article describes how he considered other career paths after having Tommy John surgery and then elbow inflammation, causing him to miss most of 2009 and all of 2010. He stuck with baseball, though, and here he is at Bradenton.
I doubt there's an organization in baseball that likes Yates half as much as the Pirates do. And yet I highly suspect that even the Pirates will be hard-pressed to find a spot for him out of camp. For one thing, there just aren't a lot of bullpen jobs available. For another, Yates is 33 and was never particularly good even before the elbow trouble. He has 48 walks in 85 career innings with the Pirates, and was often excruciating to watch.
It would be easier to be open-minded about the possibility of Yates making the team (hey, you never know, maybe Tommy John made him stronger, and he's better than ever!) if the Pirates hadn't held onto him for so long. They obviously love him and they have for years, but he's done little on the baseball field to earn it. I don't think he'll get a bullpen job when all is said and done, but I also really hope that's the way the Bucs see it, too.