TAMPA, Fla. -- Catcher Austin Romine has suffered a "little bit of a setback" due to back inflammation, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday.

Romine has been out of workouts since Friday, and Girardi said he is doing rehab work and will take his time recovering until he is fully healthy and able to get back on the field.

"We're just making sure that area is very stable. We want that to come back very stable and be very strong before we put him back," Girardi said. "He had an episode last year in August, so we want to just make sure that it's really strong.

"It's a little bit of a setback, there's no doubt about it."

The Yankees look at Romine, who hit .158 in 20 plate appearances over nine games in the Majors last season, as an everday catcher in the future and as a candidate for the backup job this season. Girardi expects Romine to get playing time at the Major League level this season, so this injury should not set him back too far.

"Once he leaves here, I don't want him to have a setback," Girardi said. "I want it to come back, and that's what we told him. We're going to hit it really hard over Spring Training. Our plan is for him to play in Spring Training, but we're going to hit it hard to make sure that we nip this."

Chavez has seen Yanks practice 'flip' defense

TAMPA, Fla. -- When Eric Chavez joined the Yankees in Spring Training last year and saw that defensive scheme, the one that helped keep his A's from advancing to the 2001 American League Championship Series, he was stunned.

"I was like, 'Oh, God, they do practice it,'" Chavez said. "When I heard it, I was like, 'There's no way you guys do,' but I guess they do."

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine sparked some controversy Tuesday and Wednesday with comments about Derek Jeter's famous flip relay in Game 3 of the ALDS more than 10 years ago. Terrence Long doubled to right field off Mike Mussina in the seventh inning, and Rangers manager Ron Washington, then Oakland's third-base coach, sent Jeremy Giambi home. Shane Spencer made a high throw over the first baseman and second baseman, Jeter caught it and flipped, Giambi didn't slide, and the rest, of course, is history.

"I thought he was safe anyway," Chavez said, "and he did cut it off. There's no way he would have been out. He was safe, completely. It was a great play. I didn't realize they practice it here, but apparently they do."

"I asked Gary Tuck," Valentine said on Wednesday. "He said they do practice it. Total mistake on my part that they don't practice it, that's for sure. And he said that when they practiced it, Jeter always got there late in practice. In that game, he got there on time."

Washington agreed with Valentine's initial statement that Jeter was out of position, but said that is part of why it was a great play.

"He was out of position," Washington said. "That's why Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter. Jeter noticed nobody was backing up on the play, left where he was supposed to be and got over there. Definitely great awareness on the ballfield. I wish he wasn't there, but that's Derek Jeter. That's why he's a champion."

Washington said Giambi would have been safe if Jeter had not made the play. He also said Giambi would have been safe if he had slid, "no doubt about it." Chavez disagreed with the latter point.

"Everybody said 'If he would have slid,' but I thought he would have been more out," Chavez said. "I think the fact that he actually stood up and hit the plate, I think it was 50-50 -- people thinking he was out and some think he was safe."

Of course, Chavez and many of his teammates thought Eric Byrnes should have been pinch-running for Giambi anyway. And Chavez is still aware of how much that one play changed, how it could have affected the future of the A's and the Yankees' dynasty.

"We had good teams back then, and we easily could have won," Chavez said. "Spencer, if he hits the cutoff man, maybe the second guy doesn't make the throw to home plate because it's a farther throw. Who knows? ... That's what's great about baseball. We can still debate it 10 years later.

"It is what it is. It was a great, great series, and you move on. It could have changed a whole lot of things, but that's life. It was a great play. Derek just added on to his collection of highlights."

Bombers bits

• Infielder Russell Branyan sat out Wednesday due to lower-back tightness and spasms, manager Joe Girardi said. Girardi said he didn't know how long Branyan would be out, adding, "We'll just have to wait and see."

• Mariano Rivera threw a bullpen session Wednesday morning, with Girardi reporting the closer tossed 34 pitches and felt "great."

• Girardi said he has been "going back and forth" regarding how much he'll play his regulars in Friday's Spring Training opener against the University of South Florida. He said he might give some of his starters just one at-bat, while others will get two.

• Girardi has been impressed by many of his young pitchers so far in camp, noting that Dan Burawa is throwing the ball especially hard, and Dellin Betances has looked "excellent." The manager pointed to Betances' improved balance as one of the factors making him more consistent.

"I think you notice it in his command when he's throwing BP, all the strikes that he's throwing, the quality strikes," Girardi said. "You may not notice him so much falling over. His mechanics just seem much more consistent, and he can throw the ball where he wants."