Portrait of New York Yankees Dellin Betances throws live batting...

Portrait of New York Yankees Dellin Betances throws live batting practice during photo day at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. (Feb. 23, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Regardless of his performance in spring training, Dellin Betances will start the season with Double-A Trenton. General manager Brian Cashman already has said as much.

Nonetheless, the 6-8 Betances, facing big-league hitters for the first time Sunday, seems intent on making that a difficult decision.

Betances, 22, rated the Yankees' No. 3 prospect by Baseball America, came on in the fifth inning and struck out the first two Phillies hitters, Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco. After walking Carlos Ruiz, he struck out Wilson Valdez to end the inning.

"It was exciting, man," he said. "It was fun to get out there, get the nerves out. I was excited to be there. I'm glad I got out of there with no trouble."

Betances said he was more comfortable because he was throwing to a familiar face, the organization's top prospect, Jesus Montero. Both came to the Yankees in 2006, Betances as the team's eighth-round pick and Montero, 21, as an undrafted free agent.

"It kind of helped I had somebody working behind the plate that I've worked with for four, five years now," Betances said. "He helped me relax."

Montero, who started and went 1-for-3 with an RBI, said Betances pitched well but that there's room for improvement. "He can throw a lot better," he said. "More strikes. But he did a good job today."

Joe Girardi was impressed with Montero. "He looked good to me," he said. "I thought he did a good job in everything he did back there."

A.J. plunks Golson

A.J. Burnett appeared unhappy when he entered the clubhouse after throwing live batting practice yesterday morning on Field 2, tossing his glove into his locker without stopping. Newsday later learned Burnett was upset because he hit Greg Golson in the head with a pitch. "He was good," Girardi said of Golson. "He won't play [Monday] but everything checked out OK."


Extra bases

CC Sabathia is scheduled to face the Tigers Monday in Lakeland . . . Curtis Granderson hit an opposite-field two-run homer. Jorge Vazquez, a non-roster invitee and fringe candidate for a backup infielder spot, hit his second monstrous homer of spring training . . . Andrew Brackman (groin) could throw a bullpen session as soon as Wednesday.

More Yankees headlines

DON'T MISS THIS LIMITED-TIME OFFER1 5 months for only $1Save on Unlimited Digital Access