Warren works to further cement status as fifth starter

Right-hander still favorite to land role; official word may come in a few days

Warren works to further cement status as fifth starter

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Adam Warren may not be thrilled with his new nickname of "Secretariat," playing off a comment offered this week by Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, but he is certainly happy with what it represents.

Cashman likened Warren to the legendary racehorse in evaluating the Yankees' fifth starter competition, and though the right-hander is in no danger of a photo finish, he said that any celebration would be premature before it is officially announced by the club.

"Like I've been saying, I'm just trying to get ready for the season," Warren said. "I really haven't been told anything face-to-face, so it's kind of hard to comment on that. I feel like I've pitched well and I'm happy about that. I feel like I'm getting ready to go into the season. I'm right where I want to be."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he will speak with his coaches about the fifth starter decision soon, but judging by Cashman's comments, it has already been made and could be announced later this week. Esmil Rogers, Chase Whitley, Bryan Mitchell and Scott Baker were competing with Warren for the rotation spot.

"I would think we'd make it pretty soon," Girardi said. "We'll sit down and talk about it when we get a home game."

Warren hurled 3 2/3 innings of one-run ball in Thursday's 6-5 loss to the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park, scattering four hits while walking one and striking out five. His lone blemish was Evan Longoria's second-inning homer, and Warren was pleased by his ability to get outs on a day when he didn't feel particularly sharp.

"Those outings, you learn a lot about yourself as far as going out there and battling," Warren said. "Especially to have one of those in the spring, where you can see how you do without your best stuff, is big for me just to know I can battle through it."

Warren made 69 relief appearances last season for the Yanks, posting a 2.97 ERA with three saves and a 3-6 record. Girardi said that Warren's transition back to the rotation would be helped by the fact that he continued to throw four pitches as a reliever, a rarity.

"I haven't really thought about it that much. I feel like pitching is pitching," Warren said. "I've proved I can pitch at this level. I've just got to go out there and learn from some of the guys who have started and learn the mindset of being aggressive, attacking always, getting early outs. But I feel like I've got the stuff. It's just going out there and executing pitches."

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.