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04/11/12 12:50 AM ET

Split nail keeps Soriano out of Yanks' win

BALTIMORE -- Yankees right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano was unavailable during the club's 5-4, 12-inning win over the Orioles on Tuesday because of a split fingernail on his pitching hand.

Manager Joe Girardi said that Soriano tore the nail on his middle finger while throwing sliders in the bullpen as he warmed up in the seventh inning. Instead, the Yankees left rookie David Phelps in, and he rewarded them with 2 1/3 scoreless innings.

"I might have put [Soriano] in there tonight," Girardi said. "We were trying not to."

Girardi said that he does not know if Soriano will be available on Wednesday night for the series finale at Camden Yards. Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild debated using Soriano in the 11th inning with the club running out of pitchers, but they were concerned that Soriano's pitching hand would start bleeding again if he took the mound.

The Yankees took the lead in the 12th on Raul Ibanez's ground-rule double, and Mariano Rivera recorded the final three outs for his first save of the year and the 604th of his career.

"It was really smart of the guys to get the run when they did," Girardi said.

With greater role, Nunez feels he belongs

BALTIMORE -- Eduardo Nunez's leaping snag of a Wilson Betemit line drive in the fourth inning of Monday's 6-2 Yankees victory over the Orioles was worth a second look. At least, he thought so.

Television cameras caught Nunez and second baseman Robinson Cano wandering over to see a replay in the third-base dugout at Camden Yards, after Nunez saved Ivan Nova what was likely a run-scoring single.

"Robbie and [Derek] Jeter, they laughed at me and said, 'That's not a good play,'" Nunez said, laughing. "I said, 'You're liars. Go see. Go see the replay.' ... They always kill me."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said that he expects Nunez to play a large role this year for the club, seeing time in place of Alex Rodriguez at third base and Derek Jeter at shortstop.

Nunez muffed the first ball hit to him this season on Saturday at Tropicana Field and committed a team-leading 20 errors last season, but Girardi believes that having Nunez play more often will help his comfort in the field.

"You know, Nuney is exciting for us," Girardi said. "We like some of the things that he offers us with the speed, and we can move him around -- we can play him all over the place."

Nunez said that he was told not to worry about errors or hitless days at the plate, which is boosting his confidence. He figures to also see time this year at second base and in the outfield -- positions he played at the Major League level in 2011 as well.

"Last year was tough, my first year," Nunez said. "I tried to impress everybody [and prove] I can play, I can do it. I didn't want to go back to [Triple-A] Scranton/[Wilkes-Barre]. Now, I feel like I'm part of the team."

Girardi keeps tabs on Pettitte's progress

BALTIMORE -- Andy Pettitte was just about to call it a night on Monday when he accepted a call from manager Joe Girardi, who was checking on Pettitte after the left-hander had thrown three innings in a Florida State League game.

"I called him last night; he was almost asleep," Girardi said on Tuesday. "I got him out of bed to see how he did. He threw the ball well. He was pleased and pretty excited about how he threw."

Pettitte, 39, permitted one run on two hits for the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees against the Clearwater Threshers in Clearwater, Fla. Pettitte walked none and struck out two, throwing 26 of his 32 pitches for strikes, and he remains on track to rejoin the big league club in early May.

Girardi said that he will watch Pettitte's outings more closely when he gets in the range of five innings and 75 pitches, which is probably about two turns away. Pettitte is next expected to pitch on Sunday for Tampa against Clearwater at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa.

"Obviously, he has meant so much to this organization," Girardi said. "We know what he's capable of doing. He's used to pitching in this division. It is exciting. It does seem like it's a ways away, but this month should go pretty fast for us, because we do play every day. A lot of times, April will go slow because you have a lot of off-days, but we don't."

Ibanez declines to discuss Ozzie comments

BALTIMORE -- Yankees designated hitter Raul Ibanez makes his home in Miami and is of Cuban descent, but he declined on Tuesday to offer any thoughts on the situation with the Marlins and manager Ozzie Guillen.

"I get paid to play baseball for the Yankees and to help the Yankees win games," Ibanez said. "That's the only thing I focus on and the only thing I care about right now. ... I just don't see anything that gets outside of that realm; it's just not productive for me or for the team."

Guillen was suspended for five games by the Marlins for comments he made about Cuba's Fidel Castro. According to Time Magazine, Guillen said, "I love Fidel Castro," remarks he apologized for in a news conference held on Tuesday in Miami.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who piloted the Marlins in 2006, said that Guillen is now in "a difficult situation" because of how important the Cuban community is to South Florida.

"It's important to that area," Girardi said. "You start talking about Dade County and the amount of Latin Americans that are there, it's a big contingency. As people, it's always important how we choose our words. I'm always careful, and I'm careful about what I talk about. Even some things I think I know, I'm careful about what I say.

"We're paid to talk about baseball. We're not paid to talk about other things. Obviously, you're going to be asked about them, and people would like a reaction, but you open yourself up to certain things and you open your organization up to certain things, so I think it's important that we talk about baseball. That's what we're paid to talk about."

Bombers bits

• Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda, sidelined with right rotator cuff tendinitis, was scheduled to play long toss on Tuesday in Tampa, with some flat ground mixed in, Girardi said. Pineda will take Wednesday off. He is unlikely to pitch at the big league level in April.

• Jeter compiled his 41st career game with four or more hits on Monday, tying Rodriguez for the second most among active Major Leaguers. Only the Mariners' Ichiro Suzuki (47) has more.

• Nova owns the Majors' longest active winning streak (13), dating back to June 10, 2011. The Tigers' Justin Verlander is second with 12 straight wins. Nova's streak is the longest by a Yankee since Ron Guidry won 13 straight decisions from April 13-July 2, 1978.

• On this date in 1913, the Yankees played their first game with "Yankees" as their team name, having been previously known as the Highlanders. On this date in 1998, the Yankees drew the largest regular-season crowd in remodeled Yankee Stadium history (56,713), witnessing New York defeating the Athletics, 17-13, in the home opener.

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.