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Joe Girardi might enter season without a defined closer

Yankees relievers Andrew Miller, left, and Dellin Betances

Yankees relievers Andrew Miller, left, and Dellin Betances will battle for the closers role this spring. Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. - Joe Girardi could begin the regular season without naming a closer.

"I think that's possible,'' he said Friday. "That we kind of go by where they are in the lineup and use them both.''

Girardi consistently stated a preference for defined relief roles in the past, but he said the presence of a hard-throwing righty in 6-8 Dellin Betances and a hard-throwing lefty in 6-7 Andrew Miller makes it an unusual situation.

"My thought has been more with a power lefty who strikes out a lot of guys and a power righty, the lineups just might match up where one day he's the eighth-inning guy and one day he's the ninth-inning guy,'' Girardi said.

Betances starred in 2014 as the setup man but has struggled in spring training. Miller signed a four-year, $36-million deal in the offseason.

Neither of the pitchers, both of whom are scheduled to pitch in Saturday's exhibition finale in Washington, publicly has expressed a preference.

"They're concerned about winning more than [personal] titles,'' Girardi said. "Now could it iron itself out and you start to do it one way? Yes . . . but as of right now, we haven't felt we have to.''


Surprise, surprise

Girardi tabbed Alex Rodriguez as one of his pleasant surprises of spring training.

"I thought Alex was going to help us,'' he said, "but until you get into it, it's two years, really, since he's played. I wasn't 100 percent sure.''

A-Rod hit .286 with a .400 OBP and three homers in 18 Grapefruit League games.


Extra bases

Girardi won't decide on a backup catcher, either John Ryan Murphy or Austin Romine, until Saturday night . . . Carlos Beltran (flu) was held out a second straight day but took batting practice with Rodriguez and Jacoby Ellsbury on a back field. . . Outfielder Slade Heathcott, who hit .321 with a .441 OBP, won the James P. Dawson Award as the outstanding Yankees rookie in spring training.

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