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Notes: Clean slate for Farnsworth

Notes: Clean slate for Farnsworth

SARASOTA, Fla. -- One of the first things manager Joe Girardi wanted his players to know was that, no matter their past history or performance, each and every one of them would start fresh.

That's especially good news for Kyle Farnsworth, who clashed with former Yankees manager Joe Torre last season. Eventually removed from his eighth-inning role, Farnsworth also had an incident with Torre in June, throwing his glove in the dugout after being removed from a game.

"I always have confidence in myself, definitely, but it's tough when you do lose the confidence from your manager," Farnsworth said on Thursday. "It's tough to prepare yourself day in and day out when you have no clue about anything."

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The hard-throwing reliever's first two seasons in New York have not gone as envisioned, but he and the club are both hoping for a turnaround in 2008. Farnsworth threw a scoreless inning in Thursday's 12-8 loss to the Reds at Ed Smith Stadium, striking out one.

"As far as I'm concerned, every year is a new year," Farnsworth said. "It's definitely good to have Joe here, because we had a relationship before. Everybody here has a clean slate."

Girardi has spoken optimistically about his pre-existing rapport with Farnsworth, who has tweaked his delivery slightly to separate his hands quicker. A veteran catcher with the Cubs, Girardi had just a few flecks of gray hair back then, and he tried to befriend a right-hander who was attempting to find his way into the big leagues.

Crediting "the persistent part of my character," Girardi said he made an effort to get the most out of the pitcher. Farnsworth recalls the message as being to trust his stuff and throw it.

"He was young," Girardi said of Farnsworth. "Young players aren't always so sure."

Farnsworth's unavailability was a recurring topic during his first two years in New York, particularly relating to the hurler's troublesome back. That led the Yankees to handle Farnsworth differently and shy away from pitching him on back-to-back days, though Farnsworth said the club decided that on its own.

"They never came up to me and asked me," Farnsworth said. "I don't know where that came about. I would go up to them if I'm not able to pitch."

Girardi said that those restrictions will be scrapped. He plans on using Farnsworth in back-to-back games this year, and said he won't be afraid to bring him in mid-inning when a situation calls for a strikeout.

"I still think he's got a lot in him," Girardi said. "I think he can be extremely successful. I think he can play a huge part in the bullpen this year and be part of something special."

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Wang turn: Chien-Ming Wang didn't make it out of the first inning on Thursday, allowing six earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. Even though it's only Spring Training, Wang said he was "a little bit" upset with his performance.

"The ball was not moving," Wang said. "It was staying high."

Wang said that he was having issues with his stride on the mound, which was too long. After throwing 10 to 15 more pitches in the bullpen, Wang said that he is not injured and he can fix it quickly.

"It's early, so he's feeling strong," said pitching coach Dave Eiland. "He was under some pitches and they were staying up. It was a rough day for him, but he's going to be OK."

Seeing Red: Andy Phillips was asked about the biggest difference between his former organization and his new one. Now a Reds hopeful, Phillips laughed and said that Thursday -- two weeks into camp already -- was the first time a reporter had even approached him.

The 31-year-old infielder is in camp with Cincinnati this spring on a Minor League deal after a string of hard-luck seasons in the Yankees organization. Still maintaining a sunny disposition, Phillips said he is hoping his versatility will help him latch on with the Reds.

"You can say, 'Why me?' all day," Phillips said. "I feel like I've got a lot left in this game. I'm just looking for an opportunity."

Phillips separated from the Yankees in December, when the Yankees removed him from the 40-man roster to make room for catcher Jose Molina. Despite leaving the organization, Phillips said he kept in contact with Andy Pettitte and found it difficult to talk him through his offseason ordeal.

"I can't even describe how tough that was," Phillips said. "It's gut-wrenching to watch a friend go through that, especially when you know what kind of man he is."

Bombers bits: Hideki Matsui will be about 20 at-bats behind everyone else, Girardi estimated. The Yankees are "getting pretty close" to getting him in the lineup. ... Darrell Rasner didn't do much to impress on Thursday. The non-roster invitee served up a grand slam to Cincinnati's Edwin Encarnacion and walked three. ... Greg Porter, a non-roster outfielder, hit a grand slam in the eighth inning. ... The Yankees played an extra half-inning to get Steven Jackson work. He allowed four runs in one-third of a frame.

Coming up: The Yankees are back at home on Friday to greet the Astros in a 1:15 p.m. ET contest. Pettitte (0-0, 0.00 ERA) makes his second spring start for New York, while right-hander Shawn Chacon (0-1, 9.00 ERA) gets the call for Houston.

Closer Mariano Rivera is also scheduled to make his spring debut for the Yankees, throwing one inning. Steven White, LaTroy Hawkins and Brian Bruney will also pitch.

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

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