TAMPA, Fla, (AP) - David Phelps could end up back in the New York Yankees' rotation.
Phelps allowed two hits over three scoreless innings Thursday as a Yankees' spilt squad lost 1-0 to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Phelps struck out one and walked one, and he has not given up a run in five innings over two starts. He could earn a starting spot if Phil Hughes remains sidelined by a bulging disk. Hughes is working out in a pool and might resume throwing early next week.
``Until he declares himself as healthy, it's just too early to make a call on it,' Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said of Hughes. ``If asked the question, is opening day in jeopardy for him? Yeah. He's still got some more things to do just to be in a position to get off the mound again. If everything goes right, maybe by Tuesday next week, hopefully get the ball into his hand for just a flat ground throwing program.'
Phelps threw 27 of 38 pitches for strikes. He was 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA as a rookie last year, making 11 starts and 22 relief appearances.
``I'm still preparing the same way whether I'm in the bullpen or if I'm to going to be a starter,' Phelps said. ``Just go out and try to be ready to pitch whether role they need me.'
Brandon Morrow gave up two hits in two shutout innings for Toronto, and Andy LaRoche hit a seventh-inning homer off Chase Whitley.
``I felt in rhythm, and I was a lot more aggressive to my spot with the ball, which obviously the results were better,' Morrow said.
Morrow allowed two earned runs and three hits in one inning against Detroit on Feb. 23.
Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus didn't play because of minor shoulder tightness.
New York catcher Chris Stewart was ejected by first base umpire Marty Foster in the second after he was called out on a close play following a grounder to shortstop Jose Reyes. Stewart argued the call and pointed twice at the umpire while returning to the dugout.
``His emotions got the best of him a little bit,' New York manager Joe Girardi said. ``He thought Stew was pointing at him.'
Stewart didn't feel like he deserved to get tossed.
``I didn't get in his face but, apparently, he thought I did something,' Stewart said. ``I didn't feel like I was talked to in the right manner, and I told him don't talk to me like that. I didn't curse at him.'
Blue Jays right-hander Sergio Santos gave up one hit over a scoreless inning. Santos could start the season as the closer if Casey Janssen, who had had surgery in November to address lingering shoulder soreness. is not ready.
Santos missed almost all of last season after shoulder surgery.
``He doesn't have a lot of experience doing that, but he might have to be the guy depending on how Casey progresses,' Toronto manager John Gibbons said. ``Casey, if it comes to the point where he's not ready to go opening day, it might not be long but he might not be ready that day, he'd be the guy.'
There was a scary moment in the seventh when Yankees center fielder Slade Heathcott ran into Ronnier Mustelier while the right fielder was attempting to catch Edwin Encarnacion's fly ball. Mustelier held onto the ball, and both players were OK.
``I think it's kind of weird because it really didn't hurt either one of us, so we just kind of fit the other like a puzzle piece or something like that,' Heathcott said.
Before the game, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera and ace CC Sabathia, New York's expected opening-day starter, both threw in their first simulated games.
Rivera pitched in nine games last year, his season ending when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while tracking down a fly ball during batting practice in Kansas City on May 3. He had surgery on June 12.
Sabathia, who had offseason left elbow bone spur surgery, and Rivera both plan to throw another simulated game.
NOTES: Cashman declined to comment on whether there have been any new contract talks with 2B Robinson Cano, who is eligible for free agency after this season. Cashman did say the team made a significant offer during the offseason. ... Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte is to take part in a simulated game on Sunday. ... New York OF Curtis Granderson (broken right forearm), hit by a pitched ball Monday, plans to increase his cardio work next week. He could be out 10 weeks ... New York 3B Kevin Youkilis (sore left side) took batting practice and may play Friday or Saturday. ... Former Yankees slugger Darryl Strawberry was at the game.
The Associated Press News Service
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