Cashman wants rotation decided soon

New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, right,

New York Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild, right, talks to starting pitcher Freddy Garcia in the third inning of the Yankees' 9-2 spring training baseball loss to the Minnesota Twins at Steinbrenner Field. (March 13, 2011) (Credit: AP)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Joe Girardi keeps saying the Yankees' battle for the final two rotation spots could go right down to the end of camp.

General manager Brian Cashman, however, said Saturday he wants to make the decisions earlier than that. "We're going to have to make a call here shortly because we're going to keep stretching whoever we choose out and start settling people into defined roles," he said. "So that's going to come sooner [rather] than later."

When told he had contradicted Girardi, he said: "Oops."

Ivan Nova appears to be a near-lock for one spot after his six innings of no-hit ball against the Orioles on Wednesday. Cashman would not confirm that. "I wouldn't say that before we had our full-fledged meetings," he said.

Still, it's likely the meetings will come down to which veteran righthander to keep: Freddy Garcia, 34, who won 12 games with the White Sox last season, or Bartolo Colon, 37, who hasn't pitched in the majors since 2009. "We're going to have to make a tough call: Who do we think's going to help us going forward," Cashman said. "We have to make a bet. We have to bet on somebody."

Garcia started Saturday against Toronto and didn't help his cause. He allowed five runs in six innings as the Yankees and Jays played to a 5-5, 10-inning tie. Garcia, a notoriously poor spring training pitcher, has a 5.93 ERA. "I'm not going to make too much of one start," Girardi said. "But obviously you have to continue to make pitches in this league.''

Colon, who will start Monday against Tampa Bay, has been the surprise of camp with the quality of his stuff. His ERA is 3.00. "Didn't expect anything," Cashman said. "He was a guy we took a flier on based on how our scouts saw him pitching in winter ball and our bench coach [Tony Peña] happened to be manager of the same team. He's someone I know [other teams] think might be able to help them, so he's done his job so far. As has everyone else."

Garcia, a 133-game winner, said he is not interested in going to the minors if he doesn't make the team. He didn't rule out the bullpen, but the Yankees appear full there.

"What am I supposed to do in Triple-A?" he said. "I'm 34 years old. I've been in the big leagues a long time. There's nothing to go and prove. Make the team or not."

The Yankees had a scout in California this past week to watch Kevin Millwood throw, but he hit only 85 mph (twice). The Yankees offered him a minor-league deal before spring training and haven't pulled it, but he reportedly wants a major-league contract.

"We right now believe we have all our answers in front of us," Cashman said. "So we just have to make a call here at some point."

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