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02/23/12 4:48 PM EST

Chavez pleased to be back with Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. -- Eric Chavez hasn't officially been added to the Yankees' roster, but there's not a whole lot of mystery left to the pending transaction.

The veteran infielder arrived at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Thursday morning, tossing on a Yankees T-shirt and stowing a few personal items in his assigned locker before taking his physical.

"I'm happy the way things worked out," said Chavez, who inked a one-year, $900,000 deal with the Yankees earlier this week. "The team looks fantastic. It looks like we're in good position to win a lot of ballgames."

Chavez, 34, will return to the same role he held last year, serving as a backup first and third baseman. He spent a part of the winter working out with hitting coach Kevin Long, even as his Yankees return wasn't guaranteed.

While other teams did show interest, Chavez said that if the Yankees hadn't been among them, the six-time Gold Glove Award winner would have considered retirement. Chavez informed the Yankees that he intended to play in November.

"If it was going to happen, it was definitely going to be here for me," Chavez said. "This was definitely the spot I wanted to be in."

Chavez batted .263 with two home runs and 26 RBIs in 58 games for New York last season. Manager Joe Girardi said that he sees Chavez as a useful piece to offer rest to Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.

"He provided depth for us," Girardi said. "I actually thought when he got hurt [in early May], we missed him. He was playing really well for us. He plays an excellent third base and swings the bat. The big thing about Chavy is keeping him healthy."

Yanks looking for improvements from Hughes

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees are not shying away from challenging Phil Hughes as the right-hander aims to reclaim his 2010 form and a spot in the pitching rotation.

Manager Joe Girardi said on Thursday that Hughes may have more scrutiny trained upon his bid for the fifth rotation spot since veteran Freddy Garcia was such a reliable factor for New York last season.

"You could look at it that way," Girardi said. "I'm not talking about the [spring] numbers. I want to see improvement, and I want to see Phil get back to where he was in 2009 and '10."

An 18-game winner in 2010, last year was largely a lost campaign for Hughes. He was 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA in 17 games (14 starts), losing months to an injury that sapped some of the zip from his fastball.

"He got behind the eight-ball last year, because he was hurt," Girardi said. "His velocity slowly seemed to tick up a little bit [in July]. He needs to locate and get back to where he needs to be."

While the Yankees still see Hughes as a starter, they have an insurance policy in Garcia, who was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 26 games (25 starts). Girardi spoke often about how he enjoyed both Garcia's poise and ability to offer hitters a different look.

"I'm pretty sure what I'm going to get from Freddy," Girardi said. "His history has been [that you] don't judge him by Spring Training. Freddy competes, that's the bottom line.

"You know that he's going to go out there, he's not going to panic when runners are on and he's going to make his pitches. He's got a lot of different weapons."

Girardi confirmed that a six-man rotation will not be an option. The Yankees have CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda occupying the first four slots, in some order.

Back soreness may keep Romine out a day

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees catcher Austin Romine experienced back soreness after going through workouts on Thursday and may miss a day, manager Joe Girardi said.

Romine, 23, is one of eight catchers the Yankees have in camp and just one of three on the club's 40-man roster.

Girardi has said that he envisions Francisco Cervelli as the front-runner to serve as Russell Martin's backup, likely pegging Romine to begin the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Bombers bits

• In terms of the Yankees' depth chart, Eric Chavez should see more time as a backup first baseman than Nick Swisher. Manager Joe Girardi said that he believes Swisher's defense in right field improves when he isn't asked to play more than one position.

• Right-hander David Aardsma has been issued uniform No. 34, vacated by A.J. Burnett's trade to the Pirates. Recovering from Tommy John surgery, Aardsma is not expected to pitch for the Yankees before the All-Star break.

• Yankees position players are due to report to camp on Friday. Captain Derek Jeter will meet the media in a morning news conference outside Steinbrenner Field.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.