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Yankees happy to have versatile Alfredo Aceves back

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Alfredo Aceves delivers

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Alfredo Aceves delivers to the Chicago White Sox in the first inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park. (May 31, 2011) Credit: AP

After the Orioles cut Alfredo Aceves loose toward the end of spring training, he got a call he hoped would come.

"I was a Yankee [before], and when I heard they wanted to sign me again, I was excited,'' the righthander said. "I was happy.''

Aceves, signed by the Yankees just before camp broke and assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was called up after the 14-inning loss to the Rays that ended early Saturday morning. Righthander Chris Leroux, who allowed five runs in the 14th inning, was designated for assignment.

Aceves, 31, enjoyed his greatest success as a professional when he pitched for the Yankees from 2008-10, going 14-1 with a 3.21 ERA in a variety of roles, including spot starter. Aceves was starting for Scranton, but as of now, Joe Girardi said Saturday morning, he is seen strictly as bullpen depth.

"He's a guy you can use a lot of different ways,'' Girardi said. "And that's the guy we had before.''

The Yankees did not re-sign Aceves after 2010 and he was picked up by the Red Sox, for whom he went 16-13 with a 3.94 ERA from 2011-13. Aceves did a bit of everything, serving as the closer in 2012. He saved 25 games (though with a 5.36 ERA).

Aceves has a mid-90s fastball, a pitch that he's been working on with Scranton pitching coach Scott Aldred. The early returns in the minors were good, as he posted a 1.98 ERA in three appearances (two starts).

"He's a guy that is extremely competitive, and sometimes the competitiveness can get the best of him a little bit,'' Girardi said of the sometimes fiery pitcher. "But he's a guy I believe really knows how to pitch and can help a club. He was very successful here when we had him.''


Betances climbing ladder

Dellin Betances took over for Vidal Nuño in the fifth inning Friday night and pitched 11/3 scoreless innings, striking out three and walking none.

Girardi said he is growing more comfortable inserting the 26-year-old into critical innings, and he did so again Saturday in the eighth.

"I think if you look at the situations I put him in early in the season compared to what I've done now, I've put him in a lot tougher situations,'' Girardi said. "Situations where the game might be on the line or hold it right there. It's definitely changed.''

Betances, brought in to protect a 6-3 lead Saturday, allowed a two-out double but pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two and lowering his ERA to 1.72. With a fastball in the mid-to-high-90s and a biting curveball, he has struck out 28 and walked seven.

Said Betances, "My confidence is where it needs to be.''


Day off for Jeter

Going into Friday night, Girardi planned to play Derek Jeter both that night and Saturday afternoon. That changed, however, after the 39-year-old shortstop went 0-for-7 in a 5-hour, 49-minute, 14-inning game that ended at 12:58 a.m. Saturday, about 12 hours before the afternoon game would begin.

"Once we got into that really long game,'' Girardi said, "I changed my mind.''

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