David Phelps tosses three scoreless innings in Yankees' 1-0 loss to Blue Jays

02/28/2013 3:31 PM ET
By Jon Lane

David Phelps took another step in his campaign to open the season as a starting pitcher.(AP)
Given how Phil Hughes’ bulging disc might keep him sidelined at the start of the regular season, David Phelps has a legitimate chance to head north with the New York Yankees as a starting pitcher. Having entered Spring Training in a competition with Ivan Nova for the fifth starter’s job, Phelps took advantage of his golden opportunity during his second Spring Training start against the Toronto Blue Jays in Tampa, Fla.

Phelps pitched three shutout innings, allowing two hits while working his way out of trouble, in the Yankees’ 1-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. In the first, Phelps erased a two-out walk to the dangerous Jose Bautista to strike out the equally dangerous Edwin Encarnacion. The right-hander used a double play to overcome J.P. Arencibia’s leadoff single, but saved his best work for the third.

Maicer Izturis reached on a fielding error with one out in the third, but Phelps received help from Bobby Wilson, who threw out Izturis trying to steal second base. Jose Reyes poked a two-out single and stole second, but Phelps retired Melky Cabrera on a fly ball to center field to end his day.

"I'm really satisfied the way the ball is coming out right now, the way my stuff's working," Phelps told YES' Meredith Marakovits. "I came in this year with the same expectations, coming in and showing them what I can do."

Phelps made 11 starts and 33 appearances for the Yankees last season, going 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA – 2-2, 3.77 in 11 starts – with 96 strikeouts in 99 2/3 innings pitched. The young righty isn’t the only one competing for a job during the Grapefruit season, as other positions are up for grabs in derbies expected to last until the 11th hour.

Juan Rivera lined a second-inning double and a fourth-inning single in his ongoing campaign to open the season as Curtis Granderson’s replacement in left field. Chris Stewart, competing with Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Wilson for the catching job, grounded out to shortstop on a nice stab and throw from Jose Reyes. Subsequently, Stewart was ejected from the game for arguing what was a close call. Wilson took over behind the plate and went hitless in two at-bats.

Reliever David Aardsma, who returned from Tommy John surgery late last season, made his Spring Training debut and pitched a perfect fourth inning. Lefty specialist Clay Rapada also made his first appearance in the sixth and retired the top of the Blue Jays’ batting order in succession.

Andy LaRoche broke a scoreless tie with two out in the seventh with a solo shot to left field off right-hander Chase Whitley. Offensively, the Yankees managed seven hits against eight Blue Jays pitchers. Mark Teixeira, soon to join Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, went 1-for-3 and made his usual nice plays at first base.

The Yankees return to action at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies, which airs live on YES at 1 p.m.

Follow Jon Lane on Twitter: @JonLaneNYC comments