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Yankees Postgame Notebook: 'That's just not going to work'

03/14/2014 5:22 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

TAMPA, Fla. - Acting manager Rob Thomson said he thought David Phelps was "okay" in his fourth spring start, saying he made some pitches when he needed to - and didn't make some pitches when he needed to - and had a good breaking ball.

But the righty wasn't happy with his line on Friday - and he wasn't necessarily with the two runs or five hits he allowed but more by the fact that he reached his 75 pitch limit after just four innings.

"I felt like the biggest thing I took away from (the game) was that I had a lot of six or seven pitch at-bats today and really got my pitch count up," he said. "Two runs isn't that bad, but at the same time, during the season you can't do that, because 75 pitches through four is going to kill our bullpen."

After having been on both sides of that situation as a starter and reliever, Phelps said "it's no fun either way" and noted he needs to be more efficient, but the bigger pitch counts do at least let him get multiple looks at certain hitters and let him feel like he's in more of a groove.

"You get to see the lineup turnover at least, and I think one of the biggest things (about going so far) is that it does feel like a start, whereas the two innings or three innings, if you're throwing well you just see the lineup one time through," he said. "Once that lineup turns over and you have to think about pitching a little differently that second time than you did the time before, it feels a lot more like a regular season start."

And, if there was another learning experience here, it's that as Phelps works towards his goal of winning the fifth starter's job, the work he is doing - good and bad - is letting him know where he stands.

"I went five my last time out, so I shortchanged myself today, but I didn't feel as tired as I thought I would after 75," he said. "I'm sure I'll feel it tomorrow in my legs, but coming in after the fourth, I knew my pitch count was up but not how much, When Larry (Rothschild) told me I was done, I wanted to go back out because I felt good. My arm feels good, and my off-speed was pretty good today."

Phelps' overall take on Friday was "it's not going to work during the season, but it's spring, so I'll take it today," but he knows he's still in a competition with Michael Pineda for the final slot in the rotation. His versatility may work against him if both pitch well, but he's going to continue going forward as a starter until otherwise, and will support Pineda 100 percent no matter the outcome.

"I'm really not out there trying as to be an individual right now; you start doing that and you start rooting against somebody that's your teammate, and you can't do that, it's just bad karma," he said. "I'm pulling for him as much as I'm pulling for myself right now. If we want to be successful, we've seen year in and year out it takes a lot more than five starters to win games, so the better our staff as a whole is throwing the ball, the better it is for us."

Other news and notes from Friday:

-Brendan Ryan ran the bases, took ground balls in the batting cage, and did tee and toss drills today, and acting manager Rob Thomson said he hopes Ryan will take infield on the field tomorrow. "No pressure today," Ryan laughed, "but everything feels good."

-Russ Canzler was supposed to play third base, but was scratched because of hip stiffness. Thomson chalked it up to the foul ball Canzler caught going into the stands yesterday, and said the measure was precautionary: "I was hitting ground balls and it looked like he was kind of feeling for it a little bit and not really moving like he could. We'll check him tomorrow, but just wanted to be safe."

-Eduardo Nunez left the game an inning earlier than planned, a precautionary removal by Thomson after Minnesota's Chris Colabello clipped his leg on a slide into second base. Nunez said he was fine and that he was a little upset by the slide, but wasn't going to hold a grudge: "There was two out, it's not like he was breaking up a double play. I didn't expect he'd come that close and that hard for no reason, it was an easy out…but I don't think it was on purpose. He was hustling."

-Thomson agreed: "It looked to me like (Colabello) didn't realize there was two out and he was trying to break it up, and he got his cleat caught so the leg came up. That's the way it is. It looked like a funny slide, but I think truly it looked like he thought there was less than two out."

-Manny Banuelos struggled again in his second spring outing, allowing two hits, two walks, and four runs in just one-third of an inning. But, as with Joe Girardi after the first appearance, Thomson was just pleased to see the lefty back: "For me, I'm just happy to see him out there. He's been out for a long time and he hasn't had many outings (this spring) so I'm just happy that he's out there and throwing the ball> He's got a good arm and he's a tough kid; we just have to wait a while, that's all."

-The rest of the bullpen pitched well, with the triad of Dellin Betances, Fred Lewis, and James Pazos accounting for four strikeouts over 3 2/3 scoreless innings, and Thomson was happy with the maturity he's seen from Betances and others so far: "There's a lot of guys growing up, maturing, and getting comfortable with the situation. Lewis struggled a bit today, but he's pitched really well for us all spring. You then look at (Bryan) Mitchell and (Shane) Greene and Betances, they all have great stuff and they're all getting comfortable out there."

-After playing yesterday, Mark Teixeira went through a "normal spring training day" Friday, working out on back fields before the game and then playing six innings at first base. He went 1-for-2 in the latter half of his first back-to-back games, and after checking off that goal, he still has one big one in his sights: "Back-to-back is another good step…but I think our last stretch is like four or five in a row before we leave for Houston. I'd like to play in all of those games, and I shouldn't have any problems."

-We'll give the last word to Phelps, with a little setup. This spring, boxes of a Japanese candy called Hi-Chew have been all over the clubhouse, as almost every player has one in his locker and one was even sent up to the press box for the reporters. It is a tasty treat, and while he waited for the media to assemble, Phelps spun this fun tale:

"Hiro (Kuroda) gets boxes of them delivered. One day we were eating some, and Allen (Turner, Ichiro's interpreter) looked over and said 'oh, you guys like those?' and we were all like 'yeah.' So we see him texting away over there, and then, the other day, like four huge cases of those things showed up. Now everybody has them. Pretty soon we're going to have a patch on our jersey I think."

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