TAMPA, Fla. - A red flag or precautionary measure?

The Yankees and Russell Martin both said it is the latter.

"I don't think he's quite ready to go," Joe Girardi said of why Martin won't start Saturday's spring-training opener. "I'm not going to rush him."

Martin, who had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in December, also discussed an MCL - medial collateral ligament - injury for the first time that neither he nor general manager Brian Cashman said was a concern.

"I injured my MCL in the offseason," Martin said. "But the surgery wasn't for the MCL, it was for the meniscus. When they looked at my knee they saw that I had a meniscus issue as well, so in the time it would take for the MCL to heal, the surgery would heal, so they might as well do it. It was just a prevention type thing."

Martin said the hip injury that cost him the last two months of the 2010 season was completely healed but his knee was not yet 100 percent.

"It's still a little bit stiff," he said.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Girardi said he didn't have a timetable for when Martin, 28, would catch.

"If it's three or four days, that would be my hope," he said. "But if it takes more, it takes more."

Martin said his sitting was "a conservative approach" so there would be no "setbacks." "I want to be there from Day 1 all the way through," he said.

 

Mo throws

Mariano Rivera threw his first bullpen of spring training early yesterday morning, looking sharp while throwing 30 pitches to bullpen catcher Roman Rodriguez. He was forced to throw to Rodriguez because, in what were some humorous moments leading up to the session, a scheduling mix-up had no catcher report to the bullpen. "I survived," Rivera said with a smile afterward.

So, too did Rodriguez, who caught without equipment.

 

Young arms on display

Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances looked impressive throwing live BP, with both sessions well attended by team hierarchy, including Cashman.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

"People are really pleased with his presence, and his confidence and things of that nature stand out on the mound," Cashman said. Cashman reiterated that regardless what happens this spring, Banuelos - and 6-8 righty Betances, who looked good throwing live BP earlier in the day - will start the season at Double-A Trenton.

 

Extra bases

INF Eduardo Nunez and C Austin Romine were sent home with severe head and chest colds.