Pretty easy to bundle Adam Warren and David Phelps into a single entity. They’re both right-handed pitchers in their mid-20s out of major college programs at basically the exact same stage of development with relatively similar pitching arsenals vying for the same big league roles while lockering right next to one another.
It seems any time one of their names is mentioned, the other’s name won’t be far behind.
“(Phelps) is one of my really good friends,” Warren said. “I don’t get annoyed at all. … We joke about it a little bit. Sometimes people expect us to be clashing, and enemies, and we joke about it — we’re supposed to hate each other, right? — but no, other than joking around about it, we don’t seriously talk about (the fifth-starter competition). We know we’re supposed to just go out there and get the job done.”
Phelps-and-Warren — the two-headed rotation/bullpen candidate — has started the past two games for the Yankees. Phelps took his turn yesterday and got a bunch of strikeouts while allowing a home run. Warren took his turn today and walked an unusual number of guys, but ultimately pitched two scoreless with a pickoff for good measure. He joked that he’ll be able to give Phelps a hard time about being the first to pick off a guy this spring (Phelps has a great pickoff move and takes some pride in it).
“A little jumpy the first inning, just excited to get back out there,” Warren said. “I’m not pleased with the walks, but I know that’s not normal for me. Just feel like I was a little jumpy, so made the adjustment in the second inning there.”
Brian McCann said he was happy with the ground balls Warren was able to generate, and Joe Girardi said he was overall happy with what he saw from today’s starter. In one role or another, it seems that both Phelps and Warren have a spots on the Yankees pitching staff, it’s just a matter of figuring out how exactly to use them. They don’t actually have to be one and the same.
“I think my confidence is high,” Warren said. “I know I can get these guys out, so I’ve just been worried about going out there and executing pitches. … I’ve set my goals higher. It goes from just trying to make the team — I mean, I’m still trying to make the team this year — but setting some higher goals for myself, making more of an impact. For the most part not thinking about competing, just getting ready for the season. But I’m definitely more comfortable this year and a little more confident after what happened last year.”
· Weird day on the bases for the Tigers who had a runner picked off at second, another runner thrown out inexplicably trying to go first to third on a walk, and had another runner thrown out at the plate. It was Zoilo Almonte who got the outfield assist with a terrific throw from left field to end the third inning. “It’s kind of exactly what I would have done before the rule (about not blocking the plate),” Brian McCann said. “You let the ball travel, and it was a bang-bang play, and he slid right into the tag. It was a great throw. All I had to do was put my glove on the plate and he was there.”
· Warren on his pickoff against Rajai Davis: ?I know he’s aggressive on the basepaths, so it was kinda just a daylight play. … It’s neat to pick somebody off, just to get the practice and game experience in, I just wasn’t expecting it.”
· McCann seemed a little surprised that he hit a homer today (and he crushed it, by the way). “I usually don’t hit home runs early in camp,” he said. “I don’t know if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. My first two games, I’ve been pleased with the way I’ve felt at the plate.”
· I find myself writing Yangervis Solarte’s name more than I expected. He was in the lineup again today and had another big game: 2-for-2 with a home run and three RBI. He’s the first Yankees player to hit two homers this spring. Seems like a borderline but not out-of-the-question option for a bench role. He’s kind of an Eduardo Nunez alternative, I guess.
· Joba Chamberlain came out to talk to some of the Yankees during batting practice. He’s in noticeably better shape than he was during his final season with the Yankees. “He looks good,” Girardi said. “He was in good spirits. We talked about his son a little bit and the hockey they’re playing. He was excited.”
· Game notes: Jose Pirela also homered in the game, giving the Yankees four home runs. … Addison Maruszak drew two walks and scored a run, but he also made his second error in as many games. … Double for Zelous Wheeler and a triple for Francisco Arcia. … All four Tigers runs were charged to Brian Gordon who allowed six hits in a rough seventh inning. … Shawn Kelly, Preston Claiborne, Mark Montgomery, Dan Burawa, Fred Lewis and Chase Whitley pitched a scoreless inning apiece. Claiborne and Lewis each had two strikeouts.
· Girardi joked that he’s going to have to fine himself for wearing a home jersey today. “Yes, I noticed it right away when I was out there,” Girardi said. “What are you going to do? They need to help me a little more, evidently. During the season, you don’t have two to pick from in your locker.”
· Final word goes to Gary Sanchez, who had the quote of the day about whether he got the home run ball: “No,” he said. “I’m going to get the one I hit at Yankee Stadium.”
Associated Press photos