Phelps focused on strikes, not his role with Yanks

Phelps focused on strikes, not his role with Yanks

TAMPA, Fla. -- David Phelps is coming into camp competing to win the fifth-starter vacancy in the Yankees' rotation, but the right-hander feels confident that he will help the pitching staff no matter how he is utilized.

"It's kind of the same thing I've been saying -- this is the third year now," Phelps said. "My job is to go out there and get guys out, regardless of my role. I haven't changed the way I approach the season anyway, I'm just going out there and trying to get on a roll, throw strikes. Regardless of my role, that's how I'm going to approach it."

Phelps started for the Yankees in Thursday's 8-2 Grapefruit League loss to the Pirates, serving up a solo home run to Gregory Polanco in two innings. Phelps allowed two hits with no walks and four strikeouts, throwing 20 of 30 pitches for strikes.

"I felt really good today," Phelps said. "I was throwing strikes, and that was the biggest thing I wanted to take out of today. I didn't get behind too many guys, and the fastball command was there. For day one, I'll take it."

Phelps is competing with Michael Pineda, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno to win the final slot in the rotation. Yankees manager Joe Girardi has suggested that some of those contenders could wind up in a relief role, which is an assignment that Phelps has also filled.

"It's great just being back out there," Phelps said. "It's one thing throwing BP and throwing sim games, but when you're out there with an actual umpire, and no screen, no nets, and you're really playing the game, it definitely gets your heart pumping a little bit more."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for 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.