TAMPA, Fla. — Jon Niese said he’ll be happy with any role, starting or relieving.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that for now, the lefthander, signed to a minor-league deal Sunday, should focus on the bullpen.
“He’s one of those guys if he’s in the bullpen, he can give you left-on-left, or he can give you distance because he’s been a starter,” Girardi said Monday. “As of right now, we’re not looking at him as a starter.”
The Yankees spent the offseason seeking setup man help, specifically another reliable lefthander to go with Tommy Layne. Chasen Shreve is in that mix, but he’s been unable to recapture his form from the first five months of the 2015 season.
Niese, 30, a Met for eight-plus seasons, is 69-68 with a 4.07 ERA in nine seasons. He’s appeared in 197 games as a starter and 14 as a reliever.
Niese’s desire was to land a major-league contract, but his performance in recent seasons and questions about his left knee, which was repaired surgically late last August, kept that from happening.
“I thought it was a really good fit,” Niese said of coming to the Yankees. “I thought I had a good chance to make the ballclub, and that’s my goal.”
Pitchers get glove work
On the back fields for the better part of a week, the Yankees have been going through intensive PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice) work, which is by design.
“It has been a focus of ours because we were not good [last year],” Girardi said. “That’s something we’re focusing, trying to clean up some things.”
Ellsbury in camp
Jacoby Ellsbury, excused the previous three days because of the birth of a child, arrived in Tampa on Monday and will be on the field today.