ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - With Joba Chamberlain's recent demotion, the Yankees' eighth-inning role is very much in flux. Although Joe Girardi said the acquisition of Kerry Wood doesn't necessarily solve it, the sense is he'll get an opportunity to try.
"We'll have to see," Girardi said. "He's a guy that's pitched in the back end as well. As Brian [Cashman] said, people have to earn their spots, and we want him to make all our decisions tough in the later innings."
Wood was activated from the disabled list Saturday - he had a blister problem - and was en route from Toronto. Girardi said after last night's game that Wood was en route and will be available to pitch today.
Wood, 33, is 1-4 with eight saves and a 6.30 ERA. He has held opponents scoreless in nine of his last 11 outings.
"I know he's got a very good fastball, he's got good breaking stuff and I know he loves to compete," said Girardi, who caught Wood early in the righty's career with the Cubs and remains a friend. "I know his heart. I know he's a real competitor, and that makes me believe he can help us."
Girardi often talked last season about what a luxury it was to have Phil Hughes turn into a lockdown eighth-inning reliever. He said Saturday that having one primary setup pitcher for Mariano Rivera would be nice but that it doesn't have to be that way.
"We'll try to get it down to where we can go to one guy, but if we don't, we can move it around," he said. "You can talk about you love having the eighth-inning guy and that one guy set in stone, but sometimes the seventh inning's real important too, and that sixth inning can be really important, too. I don't want our guys to get so caught up in what inning they're pitching in. Just go out and get outs for us."
Chan Ho Park was designated for assignment. "Sad, but it's a business. I understand," said Park, who was 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA. Said Cashman, "His stuff is still good. He can still help somebody. For some reason, it just didn't translate here." Park took a home No. 13 jersey to Alex Rodriguez and had him sign it.
First-round draft pick, shortstop Cito Culver who is playing with the GCL Yankees, was in the clubhouse before last night's game and was introduced to many of the players, including A-Rod and Mark Teixeira. He watched batting practice behind the cage with Girardi.