How the Yankees Are Preparing to Close Games During Aroldis Chapman's Suspension

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NEW YORK — Yankees fans in attendance at Opening Day will be treated to plenty of pinstripe traditions in the Bronx. Closer Aroldis Chapman jogging in from the bullpen in right-center field, as flames light up the jumbotrons at Yankee Stadium won't be one of them. 

Starting on Thursday, the left-hander will begin serving his two-game suspension, handed down by the league for a pitch Chapman threw at Mike Brosseau of the Tampa Bay Rays last summer. 

Although Chapman claimed the pitch wasn't intentional, the heater nearly struck the Rays slugger in the head, igniting benches to clear.

So, if the Yankees carry a lead into the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday, which reliever will manager Aaron Boone call upon to shut the door? The answer isn't as simple as it may seem.

"I don't have a set closer that I'm going with," Boone said on Wednesday afternoon after New York's workout at Yankee Stadium.

The skipper did single out two relievers in his bullpen, a group that's missing a few key pieces due to injury heading into the regular season. After that, however, Boone said it'll depend entirely on what has already transpired in the game and what kind of matchups will take place during the save situation.

"Certainly you could see potentially [Chad Green] in that role or a Darren O'Day," Boone said. "Or really anyone else, but I wouldn't hesitate to use those guys in a higher-leverage situation. Maybe before it becomes a safe situation."

With setup man Zack Britton out for the foreseeable future after left elbow surgery and fellow left-hander Justin Wilson still working back from left shoulder soreness, Green and O'Day have the most late-inning experience in the 'pen. 

Green said he hasn't been told exactly what the plan is for Thursday or New York's second game on Saturday. He'll be preparing as he normally would on game day, getting ready to come in and pitch well whenever the team needs him.

"I think it's just a fluid situation," the right-hander said on Wednesday. "I'll be ready for any situation. I think our eight guys in the bullpen will be ready to go in any given role. Regardless if we name a closer or whatever, I think guys are gonna be ready to go."

Green has recorded four saves over his five-year career with the Yankees while O'Day—who is set to make his debut with the club—has compiled 21 saves over 13 seasons in the big leagues. 19 of those came with the Baltimore Orioles.

After those two arms, the bullpen will include Luis Cessa, Michael King, Jonathan Loaisiga, Lucas Luetge and Nick Nelson. Luetge was selected to fill the final spot on New York's 26-man roster, a reward for a stellar performance on the mound this spring.

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Chapman threw live batting practice for a few innings to start Wednesday's workout, a way to keep his arm fresh considering he won't be eligible to make his regular season debut until Game 3 against the Blue Jays on Sunday. 


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