ST. PETERSBURG -- David Phelps' strong spring will pay off in the form of a lifelong dream on Friday, as the 25-year-old right-hander savors his spot on an Opening Day roster.
Phelps was told by Yankees manager Joe Girardi this week that he had made the club as a long reliever, coming off a spring in which he posted a 2.08 ERA in seven appearances (one start).
"It was great. It's always your dream to make it to the big leagues," Phelps said. "Your emotions don't quite know what to do when it happens, but it's nice because it's a lot of time and effort, and it finally pays off."
Phelps also won the James P. Dawson Award, honoring the top rookie in Yankees camp, this spring. After going 7-7 with a 2.99 ERA in 20 Minor League starts last year, Phelps permitted four earned runs and 16 hits in 17 1/3 spring innings, walking four and striking out 14.
"I just went out there and had fun with it. I didn't put too much pressure on myself," Phelps said. "I went out there and tried to stay under control, tried to attack the zone as much as I could. I think that's one of the things they noticed, that I was attacking hitters. I wasn't walking guys like I was last year. I was really confident in my stuff and went out and pitched to my ability."
Phelps said that he will have to learn on the fly how to get loose out of the bullpen, something he hasn't done much since he was at Notre Dame. The spring has been eventful; Phelps and his wife, Maria, had their first child, a daughter named Adeline, on March 22.
"She gives us at least two five-hour sleeps per night, so we're incredibly blessed with that," Phelps said. "She's extremely healthy, she's eating great, she's sleeping great. We couldn't ask for anything better."
Stewart relishes second stint with Yankees
ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Stewart's stay with the Yankees in 2008 lasted just three days, which might have seemed almost as long as it took him to travel and rejoin the club on Thursday. But he is thrilled to be back in a Bombers uniform.
"It means everything," Stewart said. "It's not like it's some Podunk team from nowhere trying to get me. It's the New York Yankees. With the prestige and everything that goes on around here, it's nice to be wanted -- not just by any team but by the Yankees themselves."
Stewart said it was a whirlwind getting back to the club. Traded by the Giants to the Yankees on Wednesday for right-hander George Kontos, Stewart was informed of the deal about a half-hour before San Francisco was to play an exhibition game against the Athletics at AT&T Park.
"They called me in and sat me down and said, 'It's going to be good news and bad news,'" Stewart said. "The good news is I'm gonna be in the big leagues; the bad news is, it's going to be across the country."
Stewart had already lined up a house in the beach community of Pacifica, Calif., but instead made the seven-hour drive in his truck home to Riverside, Calif., before boarding a flight that landed in time for him to join the Yankees for their Thursday workout at Tropicana Field.
"When you talk about Chris Stewart, you're talking about a top defensive catcher," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There was concern about our depth if something happened to one of our catchers."
Stewart will serve as the backup catcher on the Yankees' Opening Day roster, wearing No. 19. However, in the event of an injury to starting catcher Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli -- who was sent to Triple-A on Wednesday because he had Minor League options remaining -- would likely become the starting catcher.
"I think he's one of the best 60 catchers in the game, without a doubt," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said of Cervelli. "There's no doubt about that. I just think that right now, we have maybe three of the best 60 catchers in the game. That's good for us, but obviously that's not good for him because one of them is out of options and [Cervelli] is not that guy."
Stewart said that he is flattered the Yankees thought enough of his abilities to bring him back.
"My baseball goal pretty much is to take care of the pitchers behind the plate and whatever I can chip in offensively, I'm going to take as well," said Stewart, a lifetime .200 hitter in 210 big league at-bats. "My goal is to try to get those pitchers through the game with the least amount of runs as possible. To be touted as a defensive catcher is an honor for me."
Yanks claim reliever Eppley off waivers
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees have claimed right-hander Cody Eppley off waivers from the Texas Rangers, general manager Brian Cashman said on Thursday. Eppley will be assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"He gets right-handers out," Cashman said. "Obviously, we've had a number of things happen. [David] Phelps is obviously up here. We just traded [George] Kontos, so there's a couple of different things there. He was on the waiver wire. He gets right-handers out extremely well."
Eppley, 26, was 1-1 with an 8.00 ERA in 10 games for the Rangers last season and spent the rest of the time at Triple-A Round Rock. He was 4-2 with a 3.90 ERA and 10 saves in 42 games. Named a Pacific Coast League All-Star, Eppley had a Triple-A ERA of 0.89 as late as June 18.
He was a 43rd-round pick by the Rangers in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Virginia Commonwealth, and he was named the Rangers' Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year in 2008, when he went 5-2 with a 2.08 ERA and 16 saves.
Left-hander Boone Logan said he has recovered after a bout with back spasms and expects to be available to pitch if needed on Friday. Manager Joe Girardi said that Logan is day to day but looks like he is walking better, and does not expect Logan to go on the disabled list.
Right-hander Michael Pineda (right shoulder tendinitis) made about 25 tosses playing catch on flat ground. The club is still determining his next step in treatment, Girardi said.
Catcher Gustavo Molina has accepted an assignment to join Double-A Trenton, general manager Brian Cashman said, opting not to seek free agency. Molina and Jose Gil will be the club's starting catchers in the Eastern League.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.