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David Phelps excited to start Thursday in KC

New York Yankees' David Phelps delivers to the

New York Yankees' David Phelps delivers to the Texas Rangers in the fifth inning of a baseball game. (April 25, 2012) Credit: AP

Despite the calm demeanor David Phelps displayed to a crowd of reporters around his locker Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, the rookie pitcher knew he wasn’t going to fool anyone about his feelings approaching his first major-league start Thursday night in Kansas City.

“I’m excited,” Phelps, 25, said. “I’m just trying as much as I can to take it like any other game, but I mean, it’s a big deal to me. It’s going to be awesome.”

Since his call-up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Phelps has worked mainly in long relief, going at least three innings in three of his six appearances. With the demotion to the bullpen of Freddy Garcia, Phelps emerged as the lead candidate for the fifth starter spot, at least until Andy Pettitte arrives.

That Phelps’ first start comes in Kansas City is a blessing because it’s just a 250-mile drive from one side of Missouri to the other for his family in St. Louis, and he expects to have at least 25 family members and friends in attendance. “It’s good in a sense that I can give back to people who sacrificed so much for me to be where I am today,” Phelps said. “My parents, my brother, my wife, all my friends ... To see how happy they are is really gratifying.”

Gardner coming back?

Joe Girardi said Brett Gardner would get Wednesday night and Thursday off to rest a bone bruise, be checked again Friday in Kansas City and then see if he can play this weekend.

Yanks sign Cuban OF

The Yankees have signed Cuban outfielder Adonis Garcia, 26, to a minor-league contract worth $400,000, a person familiar with the situation confirmed.

With David Lennon

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