2/22/2014 3:43 P.M. ET
Spring Training an evaluation period for Phelps
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
TAMPA -- David Phelps has moved in and out of the Yankees' rotation since making his Major League debut in 2012, and heading into this season, he once again faces the question of whether he'll be taking the mound as a starter or reliever.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi admitted Saturday that Phelps' role will be a major question this spring, but he expects the 27-year-old right-hander to contribute somehow in 2014.
"I think that's pretty fair to say, that you expect him to do something. He's thrown the ball well, and you expect him to continue to help us," Girardi said. "I think he's pretty much capable of doing whatever you ask him to do.
"There's a lot of things we have to evaluate this spring, and he's a big part, trying to figure out where he fits in."
Phelps told reporters earlier this spring that he would prefer to be a starter and believes he's capable of doing so, but he doesn't mind pitching out of the bullpen. Phelps will compete with Michael Pineda, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation during Spring Training.
Phelps, who's gone 10-9 with a 4.11 ERA in 55 games (23 starts) over the past two seasons, began last season in the bullpen, shifted to the rotation in May then missed more than two months with a right forearm strain. He came back in September and pitched well in four relief appearances, but overall he finished the year with a 4.98 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 86 2/3 innings.
So far, Girardi said, there have been no signs of the injury that held Phelps back in 2013.
"He has not had any issues this spring, but I do believe it's something you have to watch," Girardi said.
Flu sidelines Soriano from Yankees' workouts
TAMPA -- The Yankees had hoped to have Alfonso Soriano back on the field Saturday, but now it appears the flu Soriano's been dealing with will keep him sidelined until next week.
Soriano was excused from on-field activities Friday but did work out in the weight room, seemingly an encouraging sign for the 38-year-old outfielder/designated hitter. But he was held out completely Saturday and won't work out on the field Sunday, either.
"He's still not doing well. He'll be re-evaluated Monday to see where he's at," Girardi said. "We thought he was doing better, and then [Friday] night he got worse again."
The illness has kept Soriano from working out with the team since New York's position players reported to Spring Training on Wednesday.
Acquired before last year's Trade Deadline, Soriano hit .256/.325/.525 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs in 58 games for the Yankees. Overall in 2013, the 15-year veteran hit .255/.302/.489 with 34 homers and 101 RBIs. With Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran likely manning the corner-outfield positions, Soriano figures to see most of his playing time as the Yankees' primary right-handed designated hitter.
Some Yanks regulars could play against FSU
TAMPA -- Manager Joe Girardi said he hasn't decided which of his veteran players will take the field in the Yankees' Spring Training opener against Florida State University on Tuesday, though he will consider slotting some of his regulars into the starting lineup.
"I might put a few in there," Girardi said Saturday. "I've got to see where they are. Maybe one at-bat and get 'em going."
The Seminoles, meanwhile, are bringing along a few stars of their own.
Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston is part of the Florida State team that will face the Yankees at 1:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday. FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher, who led the team to the 2013 BCS National Championship, is scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Obviously well-known for his work on the gridiron, Winston also appeared in 41 baseball games as a freshman in 2013, starting 32 games as a hitter and making 17 relief appearances as a pitcher. Winston batted .235 with a .377 on-base percentage and recorded a 1-2 record and 3.00 ERA with two saves last year.
• The Yankees are dealing with a few minor injuries, Girardi said. Most notably, outfield prospect Tyler Austin didn't take batting practice Saturday due to a sore right wrist, the same one that bothered him last season and kept him out of the Arizona Fall League.
Girardi also said veteran right-hander Jim Miller will be out until at least Monday with a "slight irritation" in his calf, and lefty Nik Turley didn't throw a bullpen session as scheduled Saturday because his arm tightened up.
• Former Yankees catcher and current Spring Training guest instructor Jorge Posada arrived at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday.
• Left-hander Manny Banuelos, who has a shot to crack the Yankees' Opening Day bullpen, threw to hitters during batting practice at Steinbrenner Field on Saturday. Banuelos, once a top prospect, didn't pitch at all in 2013 as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
"Looked pretty good. Obviously missing a year, you're going to be a little bit rusty," Girardi said. "But it looked like the ball was coming out of his hand great. I like what I see."
• A brief but heavy rainstorm delayed the Yankees' workout Saturday and forced most hitters to do their work in the indoor batting cage, but Matt Thornton, Shawn Kelley, Cesar Cabral and Matt Daley still threw live batting practice on the main field.
• Girardi was "a little bit surprised" to hear that former Yankees catcher Jesus Montero reportedly arrived to Mariners camp 40 pounds overweight. Montero was shipped to Seattle after the 2011 season in the trade that brought back Pineda. When asked about Montero on Saturday, Girardi referenced Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon's response to hitting coach Kevin Long's criticism of Robinson Cano.
"Sometimes you're not sure why things happen, but I think Lloyd said it best: You worry about the guys in your camp," Girardi said, smiling.
• The Orioles are close to making another significant late free-agent signing, having reportedly reached an agreement with slugging outfielder/DH Nelson Cruz on Saturday. Girardi noted that the deal, along with Baltimore's recent signing of right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, only makes the American League East more competitive.
"It even makes [the Orioles] better is what it does," Girardi said. "Our division gets tougher and tougher, it seems, every year. And you expect it to be extremely tough this year."