Notes: Spring innings limit set for Mo

Notes: Spring innings limit set for Mo

TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera may throw a dozen or fewer innings throughout the Grapefruit League schedule, and that's just fine with the longtime Yankees closer.

"That's the line there, 10 to 12 [innings]," Rivera said. "That's good. We have a lot of young guys here. They need the work."

Rivera, 37, tossed in a bullpen area down the right-field line with a group of relievers on Friday, and he got loose easily, according to Yankees manager Joe Torre.

The Yankees rested Rivera last September to eradicate a muscle strain near his right elbow, a problem that Rivera does not expect to recur. Rivera has scored well on all introductory physical examinations, Torre said.

Rivera threw little during the offseason -- he said he picked up a baseball for the first time only three weeks ago -- but he carried out an offseason training program intended to strengthen various muscles in his right elbow and forearm.

"I've been working a lot on the arm," Rivera said. "I should be all right."

Torre said that the Yankees' intentions to limit Rivera's workload in Spring Training are based upon his value to the club.

"He's so important for us," Torre said. "The most important thing is getting his work, and being a closer, I don't think it's that important to put him on any type of a schedule other than throwing regularly."

Torre noted that he is planning to limit Rivera's workload this season to just the ninth inning if possible, which figures to increase the importance of projected setup relievers like Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Proctor and Luis Vizcaino.

"I'm not of a mind to want to use him in the eighth inning," Torre said.

Torre said that he outlined the plan with Rivera recently, telling him that it was "probably best." Rivera said that he would remain available whenever needed.

Run, Doug, run: New Yankees first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz is a man on the move, quite literally.

As part of his recovery from August back surgery, the 32-year-old Mientkiewicz has been traveling great distances on foot, earning him a cinematic nickname.

"I used to hate running," Mientkiewicz said. "I enjoy running now. My family calls me 'Forrest Gump.'"

Mientkiewicz stopped by the Legends Field facility on Friday to drop off equipment, after working out across the street at the club's Minor League training complex.

Projected as the left-handed-hitting half of a first-base platoon and the team's No. 9 hitter, Mientkiewicz said that he's looking forward to a second chance in New York after struggling with the Mets in 2005.

"I can't say enough how excited I am to be here, or how I'm going to enjoy every minute of it -- good or bad," Mientkiewicz said.

Will he or won't he? Another day has gone by, and there's still no official word from Bernie Williams.

The 38-year-old outfielder could still decide to accept the Yankees' non-roster invitation and attend Spring Training, though he doesn't seem to be in any hurry to do so.

Torre said that he hasn't spoken to Williams since their last telephone conversation on Wednesday, but he plans to attempt to reach the veteran if there is no contact within the next day or so.

Meanwhile, shortstop Derek Jeter said that he has spoken with Williams recently, but he refused to divulge the contents of those conversations.

Jeter did note that he continues to hold out hope "for selfish reasons" that Williams chooses to report to Tampa, but he said that he didn't want to speculate on what Williams might be thinking at this stage.

"The thing is, I can't relate to what Bernie's going through," Jeter said. "No one here can relate to what Bernie's going through. He's been in this organization for 20 years, you know? So I can't sit here and say to Bernie, 'If I were you, I'd do this.'"

Hedging his bet: Jeter said that he spoke with free-agent right-hander Roger Clemens recently. Jeter believes that Clemens will not be able to resist the urge to pitch another season, but the matter of exactly where Clemens will be pitching is being left up to debate.

"I just don't see him going home yet," Jeter said. "Where he's going to pitch, I have no clue. I really have no idea. When I'm with him, he's got enough people asking him that question. I'm not one to run and ask him."

White out: Right-handed pitcher Steven White felt some discomfort after his bullpen session on Thursday and left the Yankees' complex wearing a neck brace, general manager Brian Cashman said.

White, 25, had issues with his neck and shoulder muscles, and he has been scheduled for a MRI. Cashman suggested that White -- a non-roster invitee who split last year between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Columbus -- may have slept in an awkward position.

Torre said that White would be shut down until the early part of next week.

Cast away: Raul Chavez, a non-roster invitee to camp, has shown enough progress to remove a protective cast from his glove hand, and he's about a week away from catching bullpen sessions.

Chavez, 33, broke his left hand in winter ball when he was hit by a pitch. He said that he knew immediately what X-rays would later reveal.

"It hit me real good," he said. "I feel bad, because I came in here to compete for a spot."

Chavez batted .179 in 28 at-bats for the Orioles last season. He hopes to begin taking live batting practice shortly and return to action in time for the Yankees' first exhibition game on March 1.

Attention grabbers: Watching Day 2 of bullpen workouts on Friday, Torre said that he was intrigued by left-handers Ben Kozlowski and Sean Henn, plus right-handers T.J. Beam and Jose Veras.

Torre noted Kozlowski's size, Henn's velocity and Veras' command. Veras' offerings included a curveball, earning him a visit from pitching coach Ron Guidry, who told the hurler to limit his offerings to fastballs and changeups early in camp.

Quotable: "The Yankees, sponsored by North Face." -- Yankees bench coach Don Mattingly, bundled and fighting an unusually wintry chill around Legends Field on Friday

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.