TAMPA, Fla. -- The competition to serve as the Yankees' fifth starter was officially under way Thursday, when right-hander David Phelps got an early start to his spring by taking the mound against live hitters.
Phelps is among the Yankees hurlers who are slightly ahead of schedule with Grapefruit League games approaching, getting 30 pitches of work in as Francisco Cervelli and Bobby Wilson took their hacks.
"I pushed myself a little more in the offseason, so my arm is ready a little quicker during Spring Training because I'm trying to make an impression," Phelps said. "It helped me out last year, my arm felt fresh throughout the entire year. I did the same routine I did last year coming into camp."
Phelps and right-hander Ivan Nova are the leading candidates to grab the fifth spot in New York's rotation, sliding in behind the quartet of CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes.
"They've both done some pretty good things, so I think it's a healthy competition," said manager Joe Girardi. "You can never have too many starters. We know that, because at some point, you're going to need more than five."
Nova is looking for a bounce-back season after going 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA in 28 starts and being left off the club's playoff rosters, admitting his confidence was shaken by second-half struggles.
"I'm not going to lie -- sometimes," Nova said. "It's frustrating when you're trying to do your job and you can't. I was putting my work in, I was working hard the whole year, and I don't get the results that I want. I've got to forget about last year, start this year fresh, and try to have a better year than the one I had last year."
After going 4-4 with a 3.44 ERA in 33 appearances (11 starts) last season, Phelps proved versatile and could again serve in a variety of roles for the Yankees, but Girardi said the team projects Phelps as a starter in the long term.
"The biggest thing coming into this camp was just making sure my body felt good," Phelps said. "Whatever role they ask me to pitch in, I'm just going to try to do that to the best of my ability."
Youkilis reports for first day in pinstripes
TAMPA, Fla. -- If the reality of suiting up with a new team had not yet arrived for Kevin Youkilis, it certainly splashed in full color on Thursday when the new Yankees third baseman checked out his spring locker for the first time.
Youkilis dropped by George M. Steinbrenner Field and found his assigned space, already outfitted with a jersey bearing No. 36 and a few pairs of home white pants.
When Yankees position players officially report to camp on Sunday, it will kick off Youkilis' first Spring Training as anything but a Red Sox, and the 33-year-old doesn't expect to take long to get acclimated.
"Got the number in there, got the pinstripes," Youkilis said. "It's definitely real. It's going to be an enjoyable time this year. I'm just going to try to go out there every day and play hard and try to win a World Series."
The clean-shaven Youkilis looked the part of someone arriving to fill in for the rehabbing Alex Rodriguez at third base, but Youkilis also made it clear that he is not trying to hide the years he spent in Boston.
"To negate all the years I played for the Boston Red Sox and all the tradition, you look at all the stuff I have piled up at my house and to say I'd just throw it out the window ... it's not true," Youkilis said. "I'll always be a Red Sock."
That comment might not endear Youkilis to the Yankees fan base, but Youkilis said that the half-season he spent with the White Sox last summer softened the blow when he considered switching sides of the rivalry.
"For me, it's just preparing to play baseball," Youkilis said. "No matter what jersey you have, you have to do the same things in Spring Training. This offseason, I didn't train to play for the Yankees. I was just training to get myself in baseball shape, so that's basically the outlook I have every offseason."
Youkilis will become the eighth member of the 2004 "Reverse the Curse" Red Sox to wear pinstripes, joining Mark Bellhorn, Johnny Damon, Doug Mientkiewicz, Derek Lowe, Mike Myers, Alan Embree and Ramiro Mendoza.
"Guys play on different teams and that's a part of your history," Youkilis said. "That's a part of your life and you can't change that. It was great years in Boston. One bad half-year doesn't take away from all the great years I had there and all the good things I've been able to along the way and accomplish as a team, as an individual. It was great."
Yanks expect Kelley to compete for bullpen spot
TAMPA, Fla. -- Shawn Kelley is expected to arrive in Yankees camp this week after being acquired from the Mariners on Wednesday and will compete for a bullpen role, manager Joe Girardi said.
Kelley, a 28-year-old right-hander, was obtained from Seattle in exchange for Minor League outfielder Abraham Almonte and went 2-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 47 appearances over three stints with Seattle in 2012.
"He's another power arm, and a guy that has been used late in games," Girardi said. "He's a guy who can give you two innings if you need that, and I think that's important that you have guys that can do different things."
Kelley has a Minor League option remaining, so he could be sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre if he does not make the team. Kelley's main competition will most likely be with right-hander Cody Eppley for one of New York's seven bullpen slots this spring.
"I think it gives you a healthy competition in that bullpen for some of the spots down there," Girardi said. "He pitched pretty well for Seattle."
• Sabathia previously said he was scheduled to throw his first bullpen session of the spring Thursday, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild actually had Sabathia's session penciled in for Saturday.
Girardi said "there might have been a little confusion," but said there are no physical issues with Sabathia, who had a bone spur removed from his left elbow in October.
• Rodriguez (left hip) is currently rehabbing in Miami, according to general manager Brian Cashman. Rodriguez is scheduled to travel to New York on Friday, and Cashman said that Rodriguez will not be in Tampa at any point this spring.
• Phelps briefly had uniform No. 35, which he wore in college and the Minors, this spring, but the number has since been returned to Michael Pineda. Phelps will continue to wear No. 41, as he did last season in the Majors.