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Yankees lineup vs. Rays, camp notes for March 12

03/12/2013 12:11 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro
The Yankees are headed south on Tuesday, traveling about 100 miles to Port Charlotte, Fla., to take on the Tampa Bay Rays at 1 p.m. The game will not be televised at all, but we will have periodic updates via Twitter throughout the afternoon.

Ivan Nova gets his third spring start today, looking to build on a solid outing last Thursday that saw him allow one run and three hits in three innings against the Cardinals, and he’ll be backed by the following lineup that will take their cuts against Rays righty Alex Cobb:

Eduardo Nunez SS
Jayson Nix 3B
Travis Hafner DH
Juan Rivera 1B
Francisco Cervelli C
Melky Mesa CF
Thomas Neal LF
Zoilo Almonte RF
Corban Joseph 2B

Interesting to note that as of yesterday, Rivera was listed as an outfielder on the travel roster, but is getting the start at first; Ronnier Mustelier was also on that list as an outfielder, but is slated to be the reserve third baseman today; Gil Velazquez (SS) and Walter Ibarra (2B) are also set to make their Yankees returns off today’s bench, with Dan Johnson (1B) and Slade Heathcott (CF) also headed south and both outfielder Ben Gamel and catcher Francisco Arcia joining the team from Minor League Camp just in case.

Brett Marshall, who was optioned to Triple-A on Monday, is with the team and is scheduled to pitch behind Nova; lefties Josh Spence and Matt Tracy are also scheduled, and both Josh Romanski and Shaeffer Hall made the trip as extra arms.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, the Yankees will see a long-time pinstriper and a brand new one make their spring debuts; lefty Andy Pettitte will start against the Phillies under the lights in Tampa, and with fellow southpaw Cliff Lee scheduled to go for Philadelphia, it’s highly likely that newly-signed outfielder Ben Francisco will make his Yankees debut against one of his old teams.

Francisco was brought in on a Minor League deal after being let go by Cleveland Monday, and told Chad Jennings of the Westchester Journal News that his winter signing came down to two teams, and the Yankees were the other one.

“At the time we felt like Cleveland was a better opportunity for myself,” Francisco told Jennings, "but obviously things change in baseball every day, and now it seems like this is a better opportunity for me.”

Francisco also said he felt confident he could win a reserve outfield job, telling Jennings that “I’ve played against (the Yankees) a lot the last couple of years, so I think they’re familiar with me. But I have enough time to go out there and play, and hopefully play well enough win the job.”

Looking even more forward, the Yankees look to be ready to line up their 2013 rotation starting in the back end of this week. After a TBD on Thursday (which will likely be Adam Warren and/or Vidal Nuno), CC Sabathia will make his spring debut Friday, followed by Hiroki Kuroda (home vs. Phillies) and David Phelps (away vs. Braves) on split-squad Saturday and Nova again on Sunday.

The Yankees have an off-day on Monday, so it’s yet to be announced whether or not Pettitte will get five days rest and slot back to Tuesday’s game in Clearwater or do some other work on Monday. If he’s kept on regular schedule, the Yankees could have Thursday’s starter go again next Tuesday, then have Sabathia and Kuroda go on regular rest at home Wednesday and Thursday, with some alignment of Phelps and Nova pitching on either regular or extra rest next Friday and next Saturday on the road.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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