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Saturday, March 16, 2013
Afternoon Notes: Hiro, Jeter and Mo, oh my!

By Wallace Matthews

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees lost to the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-0, at The Boss in the first of two split-squad games Saturday. (The second is against the Braves at Disney at 5:05 p.m.)

It was notable for a few reasons: Hiroki Kuroda's longest outing of the spring, Derek Jeter's first time playing shortstop on consecutive days, and a rarity from Mariano Rivera.

Jorge Posada and Joe Girardi
Jorge Posada and Joe Girardi saw a rare sight Saturday: a Rivera pitch in the dirt.
HIRO SANDWICH: Kuroda worked six full innings and threw 68 pitches, which, with two more starts slated here before the club heads nort,h puts him right on track for the start of the season. That's the good news.

The bad news is that after three strong innings -- he retired the first seven Phillies he faced -- Kuroda got hit hard in the fourth after second baseman Gil Velazquez booted what could have been an inning-ending double-play ball. The next hitter, Domonic Brown, crushed a three-run homer, and a triple by Jermaine Mitchell and a hard RBI single by Yuniesky Betancourt gave the Phils a 4-0 lead.

CAPTAIN CAMEO: In his first time playing back-to-back games at shortstop this spring, Jeter lashed a double to right-center to lead off the Yankees' first, fielded one routine grounder in the second, struck out in the third and then departed after the fourth inning.

Joe Girardi said Jeter's early exit was planned beforehand. "Next time I'll try to maybe go six and five, and just keep trying to increase it,"' Girardi said. "We'll see. I've got to see how he's doing. We've got to be somewhat still cautious with him."

WHAT WAS THAT? Rivera needed 17 pitches to get through the seventh inning, uncharacteristically went to full counts on two hitters and even walked one. But what caught Girardi's attention was one pitch Mo threw to Steven Lerud.

"He actually threw a ball in the dirt," Girardi said. "Me and Jorge (Posada) were commenting on it. You never see him throw a ball in the dirt. He was just a little rusty."

Mo laughed it off, saying he was rushing his mechanics a little. "Most of the time it's not gonna be like that," he said.

Mariano will work again in relief of Andy Pettitte in a minor-league game here on Monday.

CUT-DOWN DAY: The Yankees reassigned OFs Zoilo Almonte and Slade Heathcott to the minor-league complex. Heathcott is still troubled by patellar tendinitis in his left knee and would have been shut down for an indefinite period anyway.