3/16/2013 9:01 P.M. ET
Phelps showcases his 'best stuff of the spring'
By Bob Bellone and Jim Hawkins / Special to MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- David Phelps, who is vying for the fifth spot in the Yankees' starting rotation, felt he had his "best stuff of the spring" Saturday, even if he wasn't totally pleased with the results.
Phelps yielded four runs on seven hits, striking out six and walking one, over five innings as the Yankees bowed to the Braves, 4-0, in a split-squad game at Champion Stadium before a sellout crowd of 10,298.
"I felt good, my arm felt good, but it was frustrating," said Phelps, who ended up on the ground in the fifth inning when Justin Upton slammed an RBI single up the middle, then served up a two-run homer to Juan Francisco.
"I just didn't bear down [in the fifth inning] after I got two outs," said Phelps, who is 2-2 with 12 strikeouts and four walks in five starts. "I gave up that walk [to Jason Heyward], and then it snowballed. Anytime I end up on my back, it's never good. This was probably the best I've thrown, command-wise and stuff-wise, all spring."
"Before that inning, I thought he threw the ball very well," said manager Joe Girardi. "This was a progressive game for him. I'm OK with that. This young man knows how to pitch."
Phelps is locked in a battle with Ivan Nova for the fifth spot in the rotation, assuming injury-prone Phil Hughes is able to open the season as the fourth starter.
So far, Phelps and Nova have both pitched well enough to demonstrate they belong. And, depending upon how Hughes progresses, they could both begin the season in the starting rotation. In that case, Girardi has said, the competition between Phelps and Nova "could become a moot point."
"Both have got to continue to pitch," Girardi said. "I feel good about our rotation. I feel good about our staff."
Nova, who is scheduled to start Sunday against the Pirates, is 0-0 with a 1.00 ERA, five strikeouts, one walk and no home runs allowed after three appearances this spring.
And Phelps isn't taking anything for granted.
"I don't feel I've achieved anything to this point," he said. "We've still got 12 days of camp left. I'll let you know when they announce the roster."
Phelps, who made his Major League debut in 2012, pitched in long relief last season, while Nova, plagued by shoulder problems, saw his performance plummet in the second half.
Nova has the edge in experience and is the harder thrower. But Phelps has shown he could serve as a swingman.
Boesch excited for opportunity with Yankees
TAMPA, Fla. -- Brennan Boesch loves playing at Yankee Stadium. Now he couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to do so in pinstripes.
On Friday, the Yankees signed the 27-year-old free agent to be another outfield option with Curtis Granderson sidelined with a fractured right forearm until likely early May.
"He's an option," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He's a power left-handed bat."
Boesch became available Wednesday, when he was released by the Tigers after they came up empty in their attempts to trade him. With options available, Boesch was relieved Detroit sent him out and not down to the Minors.
"They did me a favor, and it goes without saying that I'm thankful for them to have done that," he said. "They could have done a lot of other different things probably, but here I am now in a Yankee uniform. It couldn't have turned out better for me."
The left-handed-hitting Boesch perked up when reminded of the short right-field porch in the Bronx.
"It's pretty attractive," he said. "Comerica is a little different sort. But obviously, you have to stay within yourself. You can't get too greedy, but I've always loved playing there. It's just a fact."
In three seasons with the Tigers, Boesch hit .269 in 196 games at Comerica Park. His average in eight games at Yankee Stadium is .367.
"You never forget your games in New York," he said. "Just as a kid, playing against the Yankees, playing for the Yankees -- those are both dreams. But definitely, playing for them tops it off. What a quality organization to join after Detroit."
Boesch has played 251 big league games in right field and 101 games in left. He simply wants to play.
"I'm comfortable in the lineup wherever," he said. "I've always been somebody that figured that your talent will dictate your status, and you've got to earn the opportunity to play. That's what I plan on doing -- earning the opportunity."
To clear space for Boesch on the 40-man roster, the Yankees placed right-hander Michael Pineda on the 60-day disabled list.
Logan hopes to see game action soon
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees left-hander Boone Logan said his arm felt great after pitching batting practice on a back field Saturday. The reliever hopes the next step in his recovery from elbow soreness is to face batters wearing a different uniform.
"I don't see myself needing to do another session. I'd just rather go in a game and start from there," said Logan, whose previous activity had been on flat ground and off bullpen mounds.
Though enthusiastic about his progress, he is not completely comfortable.
"I do feel it every day. It's just like a little inflammation still, but it's normal," Logan said. "I'm strong. My arm feels good. I'm real excited about how it feels right now. It's getting better every day. I don't feel it nearly as much as I did a week ago."
His bottom line?
"I feel worthless when I'm not pitching."
Francisco trying to earn a spot with Yankees
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Outfielder Ben Francisco, who signed with New York because he thought he had a better chance of landing a job with the injury-depleted Yankees than he did with the Indians, finds himself battling for playing time again now that the Yankees have acquired Brennan Boesch.
The right-handed-hitting Francisco, who went 0-for-3 in a split-squad game on Saturday night, and the left-handed-hitting Boesch, who made his debut with the Yankees in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, could platoon in one of the corner-outfield positions, at least until Curtis Granderson (fractured right forearm) returns sometime after the first month.
"There are no guarantees for anyone," manager Joe Girardi said. "We'll continue to evaluate those guys as we move forward."
Francisco signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees after asking for and receiving his release from the Indians, where he felt his chances of making the team were limited.
"We felt we had better chance somewhere else," Francisco explained at the time.
Before Francisco signed with the Indians, the Yankees had wanted to bring him to camp as a non-roster invitee. Francisco chose Cleveland, but when the Indians signed Michael Bourn, his playing time dwindled.
But now that the Yankees have signed Boesch, who was cut this week by the Tigers, he finds himself in a somewhat similar situation.
"You'll probably see a lot of him [Francisco] in the next two weeks," Girardi said. "He's got an opportunity."
The 31-year-old Francisco has a .252 career average against left-handed pitching.
Francisco began the 2012 season in Toronto, but the Blue Jays traded him to Houston and the Astros shipped him to Tampa Bay. In addition, he missed 29 games with a strained hamstring.
"I just never really got my feet under me," he said.
• The Yankees didn't score a run Saturday. They were blanked, 7-0, by the Phillies in Tampa and lost to the Braves, 4-0. "The runs weren't in Florida for us today," Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli, who is vying with Chris Stewart for the chance to replace Russell Martin as the Yankees' starting catcher, went hitless in three trips Saturday, but his strong defensive performance (he is 5-for-7 throwing out runners) gives him an edge.
"I'm going to be happy when I see my name on the first game, but I'm not thinking about that," Cervelli said. "I just come every day, play, work and that's it. Let them decide what's going to happen."
• Struggling veterans Matt Diaz and Dan Johnson, who are both trying to grab one of the final roster spots, were both in the starting lineup Saturday evening. Diaz, who was the DH, and Johnson, who started at first base, each collected one of the Yankees' three hits.
Bob Bellone and Jim Hawkins are contributors to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.