Healthy David Phelps another option for rotation

Yankees pitcher David Phelps works out at Steinbrenner

Yankees pitcher David Phelps works out at Steinbrenner Field on Feb. 17, 2014. (Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara)

TAMPA, Fla. -- There has been plenty of praise for, and attention paid to, Michael Pineda at this training camp, but there is another strong candidate to become the Yankees' No. 5 starter.

David Phelps, who has proved capable of starting and relieving in his time with the club, finally has a healthy right arm and is throwing the ball well.

"The biggest thing for me is my arm's healthy coming into camp," Phelps said Saturday morning after pitching a two-inning simulated game. "I have to go out, do my job and let the pieces fall where they may. Sounds cliche, but there's nothing I can do more than just go out, be competitive and pitch to my ability."

Phelps, 27, appeared in only 22 games last season, 12 of which were starts. He went 6-5 with a 4.98 ERA overall, including 5-4 with a 4.93 ERA in his starts. But his last appearance was a July 4 start at Minnesota, after which he finally said something to the medical staff about soreness in his right forearm.

The diagnosis was a strain. Phelps was on the shelf until four relief appearances in September, but he never felt as if his arm completely healed.

"It feels amazing now," he said. "The best I've felt probably since last June. The ball's coming out well and I'm happy with the way things are going."

Joe Girardi has been among those praising Pineda, but he said finding the right spot for Phelps is a key to spring training. In his last healthy season, 2012, Phelps went 2-2 with a 3.77 ERA in 11 starts and 2-2 with a 2.76 ERA in 22 games out of the bullpen.

"He's thrown the ball well and you'd expect him to continue to help us," Girardi said. "There's a lot of things that we have to evaluate this spring, and a big part is trying to figure out where he fits in."

Phelps' preference? "Obviously. I want to start," he said. "But I will do whatever the team needs me to do."

 

Sori still ill

Alfonso Soriano missed a third straight day with the flu.

"Still not doing well," Girardi said. "He'll be re-evaluated Monday to see where he's at. You won't see him here tomorrow, either. We thought he was getting better, but [Friday] night, he got worse again."

 

Not going there

Girardi didn't bite when asked if he had heard about former Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero reportedly showing up at Mariners camp 40 pounds overweight. Girardi referenced a brief war of words earlier in the week between Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon and Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long regarding Robinson Cano and his tendency not to run out grounders.

"You're always a little bit surprised," Girardi said. "Sometimes you're not sure why things happen, but I think Lloyd said it best: You worry about the guys in your camp."

 

Extra bases

Righthander Jim Miller, a contender for one of the open bullpen spots, has a "really slight irritation" in his calf and was held out from the workout. "He'll be held out tomorrow and we'll see where he's at on Monday," Girardi said . . . Guest instructor Jorge Posada arrived and spent time with some of the catchers. He will be here through Wednesday.

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