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03/05/11 6:30 PM ET

Facing hitters, Brackman nears return

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees right-hander Andrew Brackman got back on a mound against hitters on Saturday and is progressing from the tightness in his groin that sidelined him during the last week in February.

Brackman threw 10 pitches in batting practice and then a quick inning in a simulated game, manager Joe Girardi said.

"We were really pleased with his BP and simulated game," Girardi said. "I would expect that the next time we see him, it might be in a game."

Brackman has an outside chance of cracking the Yankees' bullpen to open the season. Girardi said that he "wouldn't necessarily worry about his stuff competing" at the big league level.

If he doesn't make the jump out of the gate, Brackman would figure to begin the year in the starting rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

CC's second start fits developing pattern

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's becoming an unwelcome rite of spring for CC Sabathia: His second Grapefruit League start of the year is sure to be a clunker.

The Nationals helped prove that point on Saturday, battering the ace left-hander for five runs across 2 2/3 innings in the Yankees' 10-8 loss.

Sabathia has now served up exactly five runs in each of his second spring starts for New York. The Tigers got to him for that total on March 11, 2009, in Lakeland, Fla., and the Pirates did the same last March 9 at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"It seems to have a pattern, doesn't it?" Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It seems to be that second start. For whatever reason, he just didn't locate today."

Sabathia said that he obviously wasn't pleased with the outing, during which his arm felt like it was dragging. Sabathia said that his fastball command was spotty and his changeup was unreliable.

"It kind of felt like I was just pushing the ball up there," Sabathia said. "It's just one of those things. I felt good. I just couldn't work off anything."

Jeff Frazier clubbed a solo home run in Washington's five-run third inning and Ian Desmond notched a pair of RBI singles as Sabathia needed 53 pitches (28 for strikes) to record eight outs.

"As a competitor, you don't want to go out and give up five runs in 2 2/3 innings," Sabathia said. "But what can I do? I'll keep working and be ready to go on the 31st [for Opening Day]."

With the game not televised, Sabathia won't need to worry about seeing himself on the highlights tonight, as he did when he was torched by the Tigers as a new Yankee. Sabathia got a reality check when he returned to the clubhouse and called home to provide an update.

"I'm not going to lose much sleep," Sabathia said. "A couple of years ago, I probably would've. I just called my wife [Amber], and she started laughing, so that sums it up."

Though sidelined, Cervelli won't rest

TAMPA, Fla. -- Francisco Cervelli seems like he needs to figure out a new way to attack Spring Training. For the Yankees catcher, March has been the cruelest month.

Hobbling into George M. Steinbrenner Field on crutches Saturday morning, Cervelli will wear a walking boot for the next four weeks, protecting a fracture in his left foot.

The injury -- suffered while fouling a ball off himself on Wednesday -- is just the latest in a litany of spring setbacks for Cervelli.

Cervelli broke his right wrist in a 2008 collision with the Rays' Elliot Johnson, battled pneumonia in '09 and suffered a concussion after being hit by the Blue Jays' Zech Zinicola last spring.

"This is me," Cervelli said. "I've got to fight every year for something. I'm not going to cry because somebody is going to take my job. I'm going to charge back."

Cervelli was New York's backup catcher last season, but that opportunity will be given to a new face to begin the season. Jesus Montero seems to be the front-runner, though Austin Romine and Gustavo Molina are also being considered in the mix.

The boot is supposed to come off in the first week of April, and Cervelli said that he will be ready to get back on the field shortly after that.

"As soon as I take this thing off, I'm going to start working like I used to," Cervelli said. "It's going to be the same -- stronger now. I'm not going to be sitting in my house. I'm going to be working my upper body every day."

At least Cervelli has the support of his close relatives. Several family members have arrived in Tampa, Fla., this week to celebrate Cervelli's 25th birthday, which is Sunday -- not that the timing seems to be bringing him much luck.

"I think I'm going to change my birthday now," Cervelli said.

Bombers bits

Jesus Montero took a foul tip off a knuckle on his right hand during Saturday's 10-8 loss to the Nationals and was briefly examined on the field but stayed in the game. ... Jorge Vazquez (2-for-3, .583 average) is "opening eyes" this spring, according to manager Joe Girardi, but Eric Chavez still seems to be the favorite as a reserve infielder because of his superior skills at third base. The Yankees believe they need a backup for Alex Rodriguez more than for first baseman Mark Teixeira. ... Setup man Rafael Soriano will throw his second batting practice session on Monday and will then begin to appear in games. ... Nationals phenom Bryce Harper, just 18 years old, went 1-for-2 on Saturday, notching an RBI single off Romulo Sanchez in the eighth inning.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.