TAMPA, Fla. — Bryan Mitchell would sign up now to have a spring training like the one he had last year.
Just not how it ended.
Mitchell, one of five pitchers competing for the fourth and fifth spots in this year’s starting rotation, was the Yankees’ best pitcher in spring training last year, posting a 0.57 ERA. On the morning of March 30, Joe Girardi announced that he had made the 25-man roster. That afternoon, however, he suffered a freak injury, breaking a toe while leaving the mound to cover first base in an exhibition game against the Braves.
Mitchell picked up where he left off Friday in the Yankees’ first game of spring training, starting and throwing two perfect innings in a 9-4 victory over the Phillies.
“Pretty excited and nervous,” he said. “Felt a little crisper the first inning but [overall] pretty good.”
Barring something unforeseen, he is all but assured a spot on the roster when the club leaves camp. It’s just a matter of whether he’s in the bullpen or in the rotation.
“I thought he was good for his first outing,” Joe Girardi said. “Thought he threw some good curveballs, threw strikes, commanded the count for the most part. I was happy with him.”
Rex an observer
Former Jets and Bills coach Rex Ryan and his twin brother Rob were on-field guests of the Yankees on Friday and watched batting practice. The pair spent time chatting with Reggie Jackson and Girardi, who once went to the Jets’ complex in Florham Park to tutor quarterback Mark Sanchez on the art of sliding. Rex, fired by the Bills late in the season, declined to comment on his future plans, or anything else.
Tyler Clippard and Tommy Layne, expected to be part of the bullpen, each pitched a perfect inning of relief . . . Luis Cessa, quietly a favorite of more than a few in the organization for one of the two open rotation spots, threw two perfect innings with two strikeouts . . . Yankees pitchers retired the first 18 Phillies.