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Yankees sign Millwood, trade Mitre

The Yankees are close to signing free agent

The Yankees are close to signing free agent starter Kevin Millwood, who will likely start in the minors and provide insurance. (June 3, 2010) Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees made two insurance moves Friday.

The first was signing righthander Kevin Millwood to a minor-league deal, giving them depth behind whomever they decide on for the back end of the rotation.

Next they traded righthander Sergio Mitre to the Brewers for outfielder Chris Dickerson, a move that all but ensured that both Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia will make the Opening Day roster. It also was an indication of the level of concern the Yankees have about Curtis Granderson's strained oblique.

"It gives us another choice as an alternative if Curtis doesn't make Opening Day," GM Brian Cashman said. "And we're not going to treat Opening Day as a pressure point. I don't think this is a long-term issue, but I can't tell you whether this is a few days or a week or 10 days."

Granderson did running and agility drills Friday and Joe Girardi said he probably will take some swings Sunday. Dickerson, 28, a lefty hitter, has batted .267 in 173 games with the Reds and Brewers.

Mitre, last year's long man, was a long shot to win the fifth starter's spot, a competition that had boiled down to Garcia and Colon. Cashman said a formal meeting to discuss the rotation was to be held Friday but "I can't tell you if we're going to give you the white puff of smoke today."

"You don't want to say everything is etched in stone, but it's a little clearer for sure," Girardi said of Mitre's being taken out of the mix.

The safest bet remains that Garcia, who threw 157 innings for the White Sox last year, will get the rotation spot and Colon, who hasn't pitched in a major-league game since 2009, will go to the bullpen.

Girardi all but confirmed that Ivan Nova will be in the rotation. He allowed two runs, three hits and two walks in six innings in Friday night's 6-4 victory over the Astros.

Millwood, 36, who went 4-16 with a 5.10 ERA in 1902/3 innings last season with the Orioles, "definitely" will start the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Cashman said. "I don't know if he can help us or not,'' he said. "But I'm willing to put a no-risk, possible-reward option on the table. We'll see if there's anything there. If there is, then we'll have some decisions to make. If there's not, nothing ventured, nothing gained."

As of now, the Triple-A rotation is Andrew Brackman, D.J. Mitchell, Adam Warren, Hector Noesi and David Phelps; Brackman, 25, is the oldest. "We got [Millwood] for some depth," Girardi said. "When you look at the Triple-A starters, they're really, really young. Does he push his way into the mix? We won't know, but we do have an experienced guy down there to start the year.''

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