Aceves' start not an audition, yet

Aceves' start not an audition, yet

MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortly after learning that he would start Thursday's series finale against the Twins, Alfredo Aceves sprinted down a corridor at the Metrodome on a child-sized pink bicycle. Aceves caught his breath, then explained that Nick Swisher had found the bike resting out by the visiting bullpen.

"I wanted to go faster," Aceves explained, as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

And Aceves had reason to hurry back to the clubhouse, with a bullpen session left to complete and a series of sprints and weight-lifting exercises after that. The life of a starting pitcher, he has learned, is far different than that of a reliever.

But Aceves isn't locked into that lifestyle just yet -- even if he'd like to be. He will start Thursday's game in Minnesota with no guarantees of a repeat assignment. And though the Yankees insist that Aceves is not auditioning for a rotation spot in the absence of the injured Chien-Ming Wang, a strong performance on Thursday certainly wouldn't hurt his chances.

What's more, he'll be pitching Thursday in front of a different sort of audience. The game will be the Yankees' first matinee since their historic "Yankees on YES" streaming video package launched, meaning the office computers of Cablevision subscribers throughout metropolitan New York City will be trained on the team -- and specifically on Aceves.

If it's not an audition, it will certainly have all the elements of one.

"It's just something that we'll talk about over the All-Star break," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Aceves' future role with the team. "Is it better to have him in the bullpen where he can do everything for us, or is it better to have him in the rotation? He's a guy that you'd like to have both places."

That much may be impossible, but the Yankees can dream. Aceves, after all, has been one of their best pitchers over the past two months, serving them in multiple roles and doing so quite well. It is that success that prompted the Yankees to tab Aceves for Thursday's start, despite his ability to throw only 65 pitches or so in the game.

"It's been amazing what he's done," Girardi said, noting how Aceves seemingly came out of nowhere to join the Yankees last summer. "You've got to give our scouts a lot of credit."

Aceves, for his part, credits his preparation for this current hot streak -- since June 7, he has produced a 1.99 ERA in 17 appearances out of the bullpen.

"It's not a switch that you're going to turn on and you're going to be really good or really bad," Aceves said. "We've been doing good these last games, but it's already in the past. I'm preparing now for this particular start. No matter what happens, I'm going to prepare myself mentally and physically for this game."

Aceves' counterpart, Francisco Liriano, will start on regular rest after the Twins pushed up their rotation to accommodate Glen Perkins, who missed Wednesday's game due to illness.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Alfredo Aceves (5-1, 2.03 ERA)
Needing a replacement for Wang, the Yankees tabbed Aceves over Sergio Mitre, who had been excelling in Triple-A. One of the team's most effective relievers this season, Aceves has made only four career starts, all of them down the stretch last season. The right-hander was 1-0 with a 2.74 ERA in those outings, and he has been perfect in two career innings against the Twins, coming on in relief to earn the victory in both of those games.

MIN: LHP Francisco Liriano (4-8, 5.49 ERA)
Liriano has won two straight decisions after losing his previous four, and he has posted a 3.21 ERA over his past two outings -- striking out 14 and walking four. Liriano received a no-decision in his only start against the Yankees this season -- and his only career start against them -- despite allowing just one run in six innings.

Tidbits
Alex Rodriguez would have started at designated hitter on Wednesday had the Twins not made a last-minute change to their rotation, starting the right-handed Anthony Swarzak instead of Perkins, a lefty. A-Rod will likely DH on Thursday afternoon against Liriano. ... The Yankees will shuffle their rotation after the All-Star break in order to give CC Sabathia an extra day of rest. A.J. Burnett will start the first game after the break, followed by Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain, Andy Pettitte and a to-be-determined fifth starter. ... Outfielder Xavier Nady underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on his right arm Wednesday in California. He will miss the rest of the season.

Tickets
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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• YES

On radio
• WCBS 880, 92.7 WQBU (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Yankees (Joba Chamberlain, 4-2, 4.04) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 8-5, 4.44), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 8-4, 4.53) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 9-3, 3.15), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (CC Sabathia, 8-5, 3.70) at Angels (John Lackey, 3-4, 5.18), 3:35 p.m. ET

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