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Joe Girardi not worried about Derek Jeter's slow start

Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter watch batting practice

Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter watch batting practice before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field on March 1, 2014 in Tampa. Credit: Getty Images / Scott Iskowitz

TAMPA, Fla. - Under normal circumstances, it would seem silly to track Derek Jeter's performance in the Grapefruit League, especially halfway through the exhibition schedule.

But this is not an ordinary spring training for Jeter as he tries to rebound from a broken season and finish a 20-year career in style, so his sluggish start in the batter's box has attracted attention.

Jeter went 0-for-4 Thursday in the Yankees' 6-0 win over the Orioles at Steinbrenner Field and is batting .167 (4-for-24) through nine games. Although he appears fine -- he wasn't around after the game before the Yankees headed for their chartered flight to Panama -- Joe Girardi said he looks a bit rusty at the plate.

"His timing's messed up," he said. "I've seen him pull some balls, and that's kind of unusual. But older guys you don't worry so much about early on in spring training."


Tanaka eager to work

One of the challenges the Yankees faced with Masahiro Tanaka was figuring out a program to get him ready for the five-day pitching schedule. He's made two appearances in Grapefruit League games -- one start -- along with a live BP session and a simulated game.

Tanaka, who is scheduled to start Sunday against Atlanta, is accustomed to pitching more in the preseason.

"Gradually I think I'm getting used to it," he said Thursday through his interpreter. "It's hard to say because at this point, the number of pitches I throw is very limited. When I throw more pitches, I'll have a better idea."

When asked if this has been much different from his preseason regimen for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, he hedged. Said Tanaka, "I think I shouldn't be comparing anything to Japan right now."


Extra bases

The Yankees decided to take Brian McCann off the travel roster to Panama and replace him with Francisco Cervelli. Girardi said he wants McCann to stay behind to catch the next starts for Tanaka and Hiroki Kuroda (Monday) . . . Jacoby Ellsbury hit his first home run in the 6-2 split-squad loss to the Phillies in Clearwater. Ivan Nova allowed nine hits and three earned runs but struck out six in five innings.

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