Betances isn't stressing over Yankees' closer competition

Betances isn't stressing over Yankees' closer competition

NEW YORK -- Dellin Betances is just a few weeks away from battling with Andrew Miller for the honor of serving as the next Yankees closer, but the right-hander said on Tuesday he is not thinking much about that upcoming competition.

"I haven't put too much mind into it. There's people that have mentioned it," Betances said. "For me, I'm just going to try to do the same thing, whether it's the seventh, eighth or ninth. I'm just going to try to take the same approach I did last year and not try to make too big a deal about who gets that job."

Betances, who turns 27 in March, was among the honorees at the 35th annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner in Manhattan. The All-Star reliever was 5-0 with one save and a 1.40 ERA in 70 appearances last season, striking out 135 batters in 90 innings to shatter Mariano Rivera's 1996 franchise record for strikeouts among relievers.

The Yanks will be installing a new closer -- improbably, their fourth in four years -- following David Robertson's departure to the White Sox in free agency. Betances and Miller -- an elite left-handed setup man who inked a four-year, $36 million deal in December -- are considered the early favorites to grab that title.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said that he would prefer to go into the season with defined roles for his bullpen, but he could also go by matchups and thus does not want to outline how Betances and Miller will be used. Both have shown the ability to get left-handers and right-handers out, giving the club strong options in the late innings.

"I'm looking forward to this year," Betances said. "Last year, nobody expected anything of me, and toward the second half, a lot of guys started noticing me more. I had to change my approach the same way they changed their approach to me. I'm looking forward to this upcoming season, and I've put in a lot of work this offseason to be ready."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.