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03/28/12 5:30 PM ET

Yanks won't rule out two lefties in 'pen

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees have confirmed they will carry a 12-man pitching staff to begin the season, and manager Joe Girardi said there is a "decent chance" they will take a second left-handed reliever.

While Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman are still hammering out how to fit six starters into five slots, they are also weighing the spring contributions of Clay Rapada and Cesar Cabral, both of whom have made a case to be on the roster.

"I think it comes down to trying to make an educated guess of what [Cabral's] upside is," Girardi said. "You know what you're getting from Clay. It's kind of similar to the young starters versus Freddy [Garcia]. That's what you have to set your mind on and go with your heart."

Rapada entered Wednesday having struck out 11 and permitted just three hits and three walks in 8 1/3 scoreless innings spanning nine spring appearances.

Cabral, a Rule 5 Draft pick in December from the Red Sox via the Royals, has posted a 1.74 ERA in 10 1/3 innings over nine appearances. He has permitted 11 hits, including a home run, while striking out 12 and walking two.

Girardi acknowledged that because of waivers, the Yankees will likely lose the pitcher they do not carry. That makes it important to weigh the 23-year-old Cabral's potential against Rapada's big league track record of 78 appearances, including a 6.06 ERA in 32 outings for the Orioles last year.

"Clay's ability to change angles on left-handers has always been tough -- it's a tough angle for lefties," Girardi said. "Cesar has a good arm. We saw him get strikeouts when he needed to. His slider has improved as time went on. His changeup helps him against right-handers. It's kind of the young versus the experienced."

Kuroda's polish impresses Girardi

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees had a pretty good idea what they were getting when they signed Hiroki Kuroda as a free agent -- good enough to write him in as their No. 2 starter before Spring Training even started.

Nothing Joe Girardi has seen since has changed his mind.

"He was great -- just great," the manager said at Champion Stadium on Wednesday after Kuroda allowed two runs on six hits in seven innings during a 5-5 tie with the Braves that lasted 10 innings. "We really got him stretched out good, so I was pleased with what I saw. He's the guy I thought we were getting, so I'm really pleased. I think you get a better idea of what he throws on a consistent basis, but I look back on the stuff I had on him, and it's pretty much what I had."

Kuroda came to New York after posting a 3.45 ERA in five years with the Dodgers.

The way the schedule falls, Kuroda is likely to be the starter for the Yankees' home opener against the Angels on April 13.

"I can't think that far ahead, and I try not to," Kuroda said through an interpreter. "I'm just focused on my next start. That's all I'm thinking about."

The 37-year-old right-hander added that he believes he's done what he's needed to this spring and is ready for the season to begin.

"As far as making adjustments during the game, yes," Kuroda said. "There's a little bit I have to work on, but at this point, I think I was able to accomplish what I wanted. I just hope I don't get hurt -- then I'll be ready for the season. Every game I start, I have to make some kind of adjustments. I was able to do that in the games I've pitched in Spring Training. I think I'm ready, but I just hope I don't get hurt."

Granderson's sore elbow not a concern

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Yankees wouldn't want to open the season without two of their starting outfielders. And it looks like they won't have to.

Center fielder Curtis Granderson, who was scratched from Tuesday's lineup against the Blue Jays with right elbow soreness, had an MRI exam on Wednesday.

"Got a good report," said manager Joe Girardi. "But I don't know if he'll play [on Thursday], don't know if it will be the next day. I'll have a better idea after I talk to him."

Meanwhile, right fielder Nick Swisher had 10 at-bats in a Minor League game after dealing with a sore right groin. He's expected to bat again in a Minor League game on Thursday and may even play in the outfield.

Yanks will give Romine time after setback

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi revealed that backup catcher Austin Romine has had a setback in his attempt to return from lower back inflammation, and that could explain why the team added to its catching depth by claiming catcher Craig Tatum off waivers from the D-backs on Thursday.

"From what I understand, [Romine] felt a little pinch back there," Girardi said. "I think they're evaluating what the next step will be. He doesn't feel great. He was feeling great, so it's just rehabbing the issue that he has.

"I think it's fair to say [he won't be ready to start the season]. I think it would be hard for him. He's got some things. That core as a catcher has to be really strong. He has inflammation back there. I don't know if he'll have another test or not. Sometimes when you're dealing with stuff like that, you have little setbacks and then you move forward."

Tatum, 29, batted .195 with three doubles and seven RBIs in 31 games for the Orioles last season. A third-round Draft pick of the Reds in 2004, he played for Cincinnati in '09 and Baltimore in '10 and '11. In 100 career games Tatum has hit .223 with eight doubles, one homer and 22 RBIs across 269 at-bats.

Feliciano holding out hope for 2012 return

TAMPA, Fla. -- Often this spring, Pedro Feliciano has come in from a throwing session and returned to the Yankees clubhouse relatively unnoticed. He cools off by scrolling through his iPhone, and the left-hander's rehab process quietly continues for another day.

Feliciano has yet to throw a big league pitch wearing the Yankees uniform that hangs in his locker, and it is possible that he may not do so by the time his two-year, $8 million deal expires. But the 35-year-old insists that will not be the case.

"Any time soon, I'll be helping the team," Feliciano said. "I'm a hard worker, and I know that I'm going to get back healthy."

Feliciano said he appreciated general manager Brian Cashman's pre-camp address to the team, in which Feliciano was referred to by name. Cashman was trying to make the point that any player in the room could help the Yankees win a championship this year.

"I liked the reminder that they still have hope in me," Feliciano said.

Feliciano still remembers the date off the top of his head -- March 5, 2011 -- that his left shoulder betrayed him. Feliciano attempted to rehab the injury all of last year in Tampa before finally having surgery in September.

"Playing long toss, I felt weird, and then in the game, I kept pitching because I didn't know it was that serious," Feliciano said. "I've been without arm pain the last seven years. One inning, one pitch, I felt it and I kept pitching. I think that's when it got worse. There was weird pain and tingling and sweating. It was crazy. The next day, it was so bad."

Cashman has suggested that if all goes perfectly, Feliciano could be in the Majors by September, but he cautioned that "it's going to be tough" for Feliciano coming back from left rotator cuff surgery.

At the time of the surgery, it was suggested that Feliciano's procedure could prove career-ending. He is currently throwing at 90-100 feet and hopes to soon progress to 120 feet on flat ground.

"It was tough watching the guys pitching and winning and going to the playoffs," Feliciano said. "It was tough for me. I was doing my rehab and got surgery, and now I'm just trying to get ready again."

Bombers bits

• The Yankees have lost just one of their last nine games, going 5-1-3, and two of their last 13 (8-2-3).

• Girardi confirmed that he plans to bat shortstop Derek Jeter leadoff and second baseman Robinson Cano third this season.

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