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Yankees Pre-Game Notes: March 5

03/05/2013 4:54 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro
The Yankees will play two games at George M. Steinbrenner Field in less than 24 hours, beginning with tonight’s tilt against the Braves (7 p.m. on YES).

David Phelps will be on the mound for his third spring start, and here is the Yankees lineup that will face Braves lefty Paul Maholm tonight:

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Jayson Nix 2B
Travis Hafner DH
Eduardo Nunez SS
Chris Stewart C
Dan Johnson 1B
Zoilo Almonte RF
Corban Joseph 3B

Catcher J.R. Murphy, first baseman Luke Murton, second baseman Jose Pirela, shortstop Addison Maruszak, and outfielders Ramon Flores, Melky Mesa, and Thomas Neal are listed as reserves, with no backups listed behind Joseph or Hafner.

Regarding the first half of that group, with the six cuts the Yankees announced today, Murphy is the only “prospect” non-roster invitee catcher left in camp, and at least until Derek Jeter returns and/or the WBC ends for one of two countries, the Pirela/Maruszak combo is pretty much it behind Nunez and Nix in the middle infield. The same goes for Murton, who is the only true first baseman left behind Johnson (although Maruszak and various outfielders do have experience there).

As for relievers behind Phelps, who should throw three to four innings tonight, Joe Girardi has David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Branden Pinder, Francisco Rondon, Mark Montgomery and Shawn Kelley listed; Robertson and Chamberlain have pitched in tandem all spring, and given their workloads, either Rondon or Kelley may be the “extra” reliever.

The Braves lineup that group will face looks a lot like the one Atlanta will utilize on Opening Day, with six of their likely regulars in tonight’s starting nine:

Jordan Schafer CF
Jason Heyward RF
Justin Upton LF
Freddie Freeman 1B
B.J. Upton DH
Dan Uggla 2B
Chris Johnson 3B
Tyler Pastornicky SS
Matt Pagnozzi C

Pagnozzi, the nephew of former Cardinals catcher Tom, is the leading candidate to start the season as Gerald Laird’s backup while Brian McCann recovers from shoulder surgery, while Schafer and 2012 Opening Day shortstop Pastornicky are trying to hold on to bench jobs for Fredi Gonzalez’s squad.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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