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Girardi: Rotation competition goes beyond Freddy and Phil

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[2]The Yankees rotation competition has been seen as two guys for one spot, a head-to-head competition between Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes. Joe Girardi said this afternoon that he’s looking at it as four guys for three spots, with only CC Sabathi and Hiroki Kuroda locked into rotation jobs.

“That’s kind of what we’re looking at,” Girardi said. “You sign Kuroda to start. You sign all these guys to start, but Kuroda has a big track history. There’s so much talk about Phil, but this guy was a dominant reliever in 2009 and a very good starter in 2010. Sometimes we focus on 2011 — and I understand why, because it was the most recent — but what if he’s an 18-game winner again? We’ve got a competition here. We have to iron out five spots, and sometimes the five you leave with aren’t the five you end up with. We’ve got time. There’s no rush.”

So, Michael Pineda — the guy who was worth losing Jesus Montero — isn’t locked into a rotation job?

“I mean, he’s got to pitch,” Girardi said. “I can’t tell you. He’s gotta stay healthy. He’s gotta pitch. Nothing’s given to you in life. Nothing. You expect to write a story tomorrow. There’s no guarantee. You still have to do your work and do a quality job. And we’re not just handing things over. They gotta do their work.”

Girardi said it was Don Zimmer who advised him to never guarntee anyone a spot on the roster.

“Because if they go out and they struggle,” Girardi said, “or they perform badly in spring straining and they don’t have anything, or they’re not right where they’re supposed to be and you guaranteed them that spot and we say, ‘You know what, we don’t think you’re ready and we’re going to send you down,’ the guy goes, ‘You guaranteed me a spot and I was working on things.’ You gotta go out and earn it.”

Associated Press photo