04/14/2013 7:47 PM ET
Phelps filling the bill in relief role
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The Yankees could not have asked for a better long relief outing than the one they received from David Phelps on Saturday, and the right-hander seems to have figured out how to pitch effectively in his role.
"Once you figure out how you need to get warmed up with fewer pitches, that's the biggest thing for me," Phelps said. "You're going out there and trying to get guys out and get quick outs and pitch as deep into the game as you can for however long you're needed."
Phelps limited the Orioles to one hit with six strikeouts in four scoreless innings on Saturday in a 5-3 loss, pitching in relief of Phil Hughes and showcasing what he said was his best curveball of the year.
Phelps also pitched effectively last year as both a starter and a reliever, and manager Joe Girardi believes that Phelps has made the necessary adjustments to be successful in either role.
"He'd been a starter his whole career, but it was basically the way we used him last year, so I think he has an understanding of how to prepare, what he needs to do to get going," Girardi said.
"He did a tremendous job [on Saturday]. You can't ask a guy to do a better job. It's a role that he has had to learn, and I think he has adjusted pretty well."
Phelps said that to warm up as a starter, he usually throws 35 pitches, but in his relief role, he can be ready with as few as 15. Although he has said that he ultimately would like to be a starter, he's happy with his current assignment.
"I'm not out here hoping our starters don't do well," he said. "I want to win games regardless of what my role is. I'm pulling for those guys as hard as they're pulling for me.
"I have faith in them; we've all had rough outings. Our guys usually have more good ones than bad ones. I'll just go out and do my job and let it take care of itself."
Exercising caution, Yanks push Pettitte to Friday
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have decided to push Andy Pettitte's next assignment to Friday, against the Blue Jays in Toronto, taking a conservative approach after the veteran left-hander experienced back spasms last week.
Pettitte felt his back lock up on Thursday after traveling home from Cleveland. He said that he could have been ready to pitch on Tuesday or Wednesday, against the D-backs, but understands the Yankees' caution.
"I'm on board to a certain extent. I just want to pitch," Pettitte said. "I understand it, but I just feel a ton better. I just want to get back out there as soon as I can."
Manager Joe Girardi said that Pettitte will throw a full bullpen session on Tuesday to set up for the start against Toronto.
"He's better," Girardi said. "We thought, 'Let's give him until Tuesday.' We feel that everything will be cleared up, and then we'll have him on Friday."
Pettitte, who is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA in his first two starts, expects to be ready for his turn in Toronto.
"I'm just getting better and better every day," Pettitte said. "I feel really good today and plan on continuing to feel really good. I'm going to feel really good, I imagine, on Friday.
"So I'll throw my bullpens, and hopefully I can throw Tuesday and not flare up, and I'll throw my [session] on Wednesday and be ready to start on Friday."
Ivan Nova, CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes are the scheduled starters for the Arizona series.
Granderson likely to be out beyond May 1
NEW YORK -- Curtis Granderson is not circling any dates as he works to return from a fractured right forearm, but it appears unlikely that he will be able to hit the May 1 goal that has been floated by Yankees personnel.
"It's a possibility, but I honestly don't know," Granderson said. "I haven't swung yet, so that's the tough thing. The sooner, the better."
Granderson's forearm was fractured in his first at-bat of the spring, on Feb. 24, and the Yankees said at the time that he was expected to be big league-ready in approximately 10 weeks.
Presented on Sunday with the suggestion of getting Granderson back in the lineup on May 1, manager Joe Girardi indicated that was likely to come at a later date.
"I think that's probably maybe a little quick," Girardi said. "I don't know. You just basically have to see how a guy's rehab is. He hasn't swung a bat yet, so until he swings a bat, we're really not going to have an idea."
Granderson has been performing lower-body conditioning, and he shagged fly balls during batting practice on Sunday. He has also resumed throwing, but a date for swinging a bat has not been set.
"I've still got to get in games, got to get at-bats," Granderson said. "That's where the timetable kind of goes up and down real quick."
Granderson said that he was told by hitting coach Kevin Long that he should get 50 to 70 at-bats in order to be ready for big league action.
"That's what I would have gotten in Spring Training," he said. "The great thing about being down in extended spring, I can get anywhere from five to 10 at-bats a day, so the number of at-bats can accelerate quite quickly."
Granderson is in New York for just one day, as his Grand Kids Foundation has an event scheduled for Monday morning at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn to celebrate Jackie Robinson Day.
He will then return to the club's training complex in Tampa, where he is working out with other rehabbing Yankees, including shortstop Derek Jeter.
"[Jeter's] looking good. Our schedules don't always mix, but the one day [that] was a physically difficult day for us, he was taking batting practice that day, and the ball was going all over the place," Granderson said. "He was driving it well to left field, to right field, to center field, and I got a lot of work that day out there shagging when him and his group were hitting. That's a good sign."
• Shortstop Eduardo Nunez said that he would throw on Sunday, testing his bruised right wrist, and expected to be available to play defense if needed. Nunez said that the swelling and pain in the wrist has diminished and that he hopes to be back in the lineup on Tuesday, against the D-backs.
• Kevin Youkilis went hitless on Saturday after hitting in the first nine games of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Youkilis became the first Yankee in his debut season with the club to hit safely in his first nine games since shortstop Joe Buzas had hits in the first 10 games of the 1945 season.
• Second baseman Robinson Cano entered play on Sunday batting .579 with six runs, four doubles, three homers, eight RBIs and a walk in his last four games.
• On this date in 1955, Elston Howard became the first African-American player in Yankees history, making his Major League debut in an 8-4 loss at Boston. Howard laced an RBI single to center field in his first Major League at-bat, driving home Mickey Mantle.