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Joe Girardi wants competition for rotation spots

Yankees manager Joe Girardi demonstrates to catcher JR

Yankees manager Joe Girardi demonstrates to catcher JR Murphy the proper form of throwing the ball after a bunt during spring training in Tampa Bay, Fla. (Feb. 23, 2012) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. — No guarantees.

That was Joe Girardi’s message — though he insisted he wasn’t trying to send one — Tuesday to everyone not named CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda vying for a spot in the starting rotation.

“You’ve got CC and you’ve got Kuroda,” Girardi said. “So you’ve got four guys for three spots.”

Though it strains belief somewhat, that would mean Michael Pineda, acquired essentially in exchange for Jesus Montero, isn’t assured a spot.

“He’s got to pitch,” Girardi said of Pineda. “He’s got to stay healthy, he’s got to pitch. I’m a big believer that nothing’s given to you in life. Nothing. We’re not just handing things over. They have to do their work.”

Girardi said his intent isn’t to light a fire under Pineda, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia and Ivan Nova.

“I’m not trying to stir [things up],” Girardi said. “I’m just trying to make sure when we leave spring training, we’re taking what we feel are the five best. And to be fair, there’s no guarantees...One manager [Don Zimmer] told me one time, let me give you some words of advice, don’t ever guarantee anyone a spot.”

Lineup thoughts

Girardi said Curtis Granderson won’t necessarily hit second this season and, in fact, said the only near certainty with the lineup is that Robinson Cano will hit third.

“Is there an immovable piece?” Girardi said. “I don’t necessarily think so. When you think about it, you’d probably like to hit Robbie third. That’s the one guy you’d probably like to keep [in one spot].”

Getaway day

After a brief workout Thursday morning, the club will board buses and head off to a not-yet-disclosed — to the players or the media — team bonding activity. Three years ago it was a pool tournament, followed by a day of arcade games. Last year a condensed spring schedule didn’t allow for a day off before the first exhibition game.

Cano expected soon

Girardi said Cano, who is in the Dominican Republic for his grandmother’s funeral, likely will be back tomorrow...Righthanded reliever David Aardsma, signed last week, reported to camp. He’s a long shot to pitch this season but is expected to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery and contribute in 2012...Andy Pettitte, in camp as a guest instructor, threw batting practice in one of the indoor cages Thursday.

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