TAMPA, Fla. -- Esmil Rogers spoke in hushed tones and fixed his gaze toward the clubhouse carpet after his outing on Tuesday night against the Tigers. The Yankees won't say it publicly, but the right-hander seems to sense that his chances of breaking camp as a starter have absorbed a serious blow.
The afternoon started with manager Joe Girardi challenging Rogers, calling it "a pretty big start" for him as he tries to ward off Adam Warren for the fifth spot in New York's rotation. The evening ended with five runs on the board over three innings in what wrapped as a 9-8 Yankees victory over the Tigers.
"Not great. It was one of those bad days when everything didn't work," said Rogers, who permitted five hits, two walks and struck out two in a 65-pitch effort. "I'll just come in tomorrow, work out and see what I can do to see the video."
Rogers permitted three hits in the first inning, including a Yoenis Cespedes RBI single, and hurt himself by bobbling a routine Jose Iglesias infield chopper in the second. Rogers said that he paid too much attention to the runner and closed his glove early.
That opened the door for Ian Kinsler's two-run single and a two-run J.D. Martinez double, and though only one of the five runs was earned, it was not the kind of outing Rogers needed to keep pace. Rogers owns a rather misleading 2.92 ERA in 12 1/3 spring innings, compared to Warren's 2.77 ERA over 13 innings.
"The stuff is better than the way he's pitched these last two outings, I think," Girardi said. "We'll try to get it right."
The Yankees have liked the 29-year-old Rogers' live arm for some time, but pitching coach Larry Rothschild may continue tweaking him in a relief role. Girardi said that he is not prepared to make any announcements in the No. 5 race, which has also been said to include Chase Whitley, Bryan Mitchell and non-roster invitee Scott Baker.
"It's something that we have to talk about," Girardi said. "I'm sure over the next week or so we'll talk a lot about what we're going to do here. I think you have to make a decision by the end of the week so the guy that's not a starter can get to the 'pen and get some work there."
Rogers, who was 2-0 with a 4.68 ERA in 19 appearances (one start) for the Yanks in 2014 after beginning last season with the Blue Jays, said that he couldn't evaluate what Tuesday's outing had done for his chances.
"All I can do is go work," Rogers said. "Tomorrow, [I'll] come in with my head up and keep working. That decision, they're going to make it. I don't have to."
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.