TAMPA, Fla. - Andruw Jones had a thought driving to the Yankees' minor-league complex Wednesday morning that made him feel old. "Wow, the manager is the catcher I played against," Jones said.
Jones, signed this offseason to be the Yankees' fourth outfielder, was a 19-year-old rookie who hit two homers for the Braves against the Yankees in Game 1 of the 1996 World Series. Jim Leyritz started at catcher for the Yankees but Joe Girardi was on the team and started Games 2, 3, 4 and 6 of the series.
The 33-year-old, righthanded hitting Jones, who hit .230 with 19 homers in 107 games (76 starts) last season with the White Sox, said he's happy to fill in wherever. "If they tell me to go play left, right, center, whatever the manager tells me, I'm ready," Jones said.
For now, Girardi said the Yankees look at him as "a corner guy."
"He's going to play against lefties a lot of times," Girardi said. "And he's a guy that gives you power off the bench . . . "
Girardi said it was possible the Yankees would keep Jones as the sole bench outfielder and carry an extra utility infielder.
"It might be what we do," he said. "There's some interesting things we have to evaluate."
Mariano Rivera, absent the first three days of camp because his children were ill, called Girardi Tuesday night to let him know he wouldn't be arriving until last night. "We expect him [Thursday]," Girardi said . . . Well before players were required to be dressed, Phil Hughes threw his bullpen, at 8:30 in the morning, one day after A.J. Burnett threw one at the same time. Hughes said new pitching coach Larry Rothschild "likes individual instruction." Ivan Nova and Manny Banuelos also threw early bullpens . . . LHP Neal Cotts, who hadn't pitched since 2009 because of Tommy John and hip surgeries, was released.