Colon's first start is Yanks' opener

New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon runs in New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon runs in the outfield during a spring training workout. (Feb. 17, 2011) Photo Credit: AP

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TAMPA, Fla. - Bartolo Colon is getting the chance to make a first impression in the competition for a rotation spot.

Manager Joe Girardi said Colon, signed to a minor-league deal this offseason, would start Saturday's spring training opener against the Phillies at Steinbrenner Field.

"Colon pitched in winter ball," Girardi said. "We feel he's possibly a little bit more ready than some of our other guys."

Through an interpreter, Colon, 37, said he was ready to go. "I pitched a lot in the winter and pitched very good," said Colon, who pitched live BP Tuesday. "I'm ready to demonstrate to the Yankees I'm ready to pitch."

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Girardi said Ivan Nova would start Sunday against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., with CC Sabathia going Monday in Lakeland against the Tigers. A.J. Burnett makes his spring debut Tuesday in Bradenton against the Pirates and Phil Hughes will go Wednesday against the Astros in a split squad game in Tampa. Freddy Garcia is slated to start the sixth spring game, March 3 here against the Rays. Sergio Mitre, among the contenders for a backend rotation spot, will pitch out of the bullpen the first time through.

Girardi said not to make much of the rotation order at this point. "Things might bounce around a little bit but that's right now how we have them lined up," he said. "There's some off days where we'll have to do some different things."

As for Burnett being ahead of Hughes, Girardi wouldn't say whether that portended the regular season. He also said it doesn't matter.

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