Erickson 'wants a shot' at making roster

Erickson 'wants a shot' at making roster

TAMPA, Fla. -- Scott Erickson was determined to begin Spring Training this week, one way or another.

Sitting in his Nevada home, waiting for a call from a big league team, Erickson felt something would happen soon. He even scheduled his Valentine's Day dinner with wife Lisa Guerrero for Monday instead of Tuesday, figuring he would have to jump on a plane Tuesday to report to Florida or Arizona.

"I felt good about something falling into place at the last minute somewhere," Erickson said, "whether I'd have to go out and pull a Willie Mays Hayes, show up at camp one day and just start throwing a bullpen."

Fortunately for Erickson, his trip back to the Majors didn't require any "Major League" moves.

The Yankees inked the 38-year-old to a Minor League deal on Thursday night, thanks in part to a recommendation by Jason Giambi, who ran into Erickson in Las Vegas at a charity poker tournament a few weeks ago.

"I definitely owe him a dinner," joked Erickson.

Erickson spent parts of 2004 with the Mets and Rangers, going 1-4 with a 6.67 ERA in six starts. He made the Dodgers' roster out of Spring Training last year, going 1-4 with a 6.02 ERA in 19 games, eight of which were starts. The Dodgers designated Erickson for assignment shortly before the trade deadline and he did not pitch the rest of the year.

"The last two years weren't so pretty on my baseball card," he said. "I made a few changes in the offseason, and I felt I was much improved over the last two years."

Those changes included a more aggressive approach to weight lifting, something he felt comfortable with three years after shoulder surgery. Erickson wants to get his velocity from 88-91 mph to the 91-94 range, which would make all of his pitches more effective.

"When your pitches are all the same speed, you can get two strikes on anyone, but you can't get that third strike," Erickson said. "It's a big difference."

Erickson knows that his chances of making the team are slim, given the number of pitchers with big league contracts already in camp. He appears to be open to the idea of pitching at Triple-A, but he's not ready to concede his shot at making the Yankees' roster just yet.

"I just want a shot; that's all I ask," he said. "Whatever happens, happens. Obviously, that's not in my mind right now. They have a great pitching staff here already, so I'll try to squeeze in wherever possible, try to help the team a little bit."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.