Yankees Pre-Game Notes: March 16 vs. Braves

03/16/2013 1:45 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro
TAMPA – The Yankees bus pulled out of Steinbrenner Field just after 1 p.m., carrying a split-squad group headed to Disney World for tonight’s game with the Braves at 5:05 p.m.

David Phelps is making his fifth Grapefruit League start in that game, and hopes to continue the impressive spring that has seen him allow just one earned run in 14 innings.

The lineup behind Phelps starts with Eduardo Nunez, who gets the start at shortstop, and also includes the other newest Yankee, Ben Francisco, who is hitting third and playing left field. Here is the rest of the group that will take their cuts against lefty Paul Maholm:

Eduardo Nunez SS
Jayson Nix 3B
Ben Francisco LF
Francisco Cervelli C
Melky Mesa CF
Thomas Neal RF
Matt Diaz DH
Dan Johnson 1B
Jose Pirela 2B

The Yankees have eight players up from Minor League camp up as reserves, with Austin Romine (C), Corban Joseph (3B), Cito Culver (SS), and Ben Gamel (LF) listed as entering and catcher Hector Rabago, infielders Kevin Mahoney and Ali Castillo, and outfielder Neil Medchill also available.

Behind Phelps, who is expected to pitch five or six innings, lefty Josh Spence and righties Jim Miller, Branden Pinder, and Preston Claiborne are on the trip as relievers, with righties Tom Kahnle, Jeremy Bleich, and Ryan Pope up from Minor League camp and available if needed.

Also expected to be in uniform is manager Joe Girardi, who said Friday that his plan was to stay in Tampa until the end of the Phillies game, chat with his players and perhaps the media for a few minutes, and then head to Lake Buena Vista to skipper the other half of his team. The Dominican Republic’s advancement in the World Baseball Classic means Girardi is still without the services of bench coach Tony Pena, who skippered the second half in the Yankees’ previous split-squad day, so others from the organization are on the bus with the team in the interim.

We will have full post-game coverage of the game here in Tampa on later today, and check back tonight for a post-game recap of what happens in Lake Buena Vista this evening.

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