Print and Go Back ESPN.com: New York Yankees [Print without images]

Saturday, April 13, 2013
Phelps cleans up; Cano plays short

By Matt Ehalt

When Yankees starters depart early, that's when David Phelps shines.

The starter/reliever made a name for himself last year by pitching great in mop-up duty, and he was at it again on Saturday by throwing four scoreless innings in relief of Phil Hughes in the Yankees' 5-3 loss to Baltimore. Phelps entered in the fourth inning with the Yankees down 5-2 and allowed the Yankees to attempt a comeback by striking out six and giving up just one hit.

After the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said there are no plans to move Phelps into the rotation at the moment, despite the slow starts by Hughes and Ivan Nova. Phelps, who entered spring training hoping to win a spot in the rotation, had no problems staying in his current role.

I'm happy with where I'm at. Just help this team in whatever role it can be," Phelps said. "I'm not out here hoping our starters don't do well. I want to win games regardless of what my role is. I have faith in them that they're going to go out, we've all had rough outings. Our guys usually have more good ones than bad one. Just go out and do my job and let it take care of itself."

After allowing runs in each of his first two outings, Phelps, who started 11 games for the Yankees last year, had by far his best performance of the year. He worked quick and kept Baltimore at bay while the Yankees tried to rally.

"I felt like I came out and I was throwing strikes and got some early outs, which really helped me," Phelps said. "My curveball was the best it's been all year, even in spring training. That's the pitch I need to do well. "

NEW ALIGNMENT: For the first time as a Yankee, Robinson Cano got to feel what it's like to be Derek Jeter and man the other side of second base.

"Weird," Cano said of playing shortstop for the first time in the big leagues. "I knew that the situation, we needed a guy there. Whatever it takes to help the team."

Due to a depleted roster, Cano had to play shortstop and catcher Francisco Cervelli moved to second base in the ninth inning Saturday. Cano had last played shortstop in 2003, when he was with Triple-A Trenton, while Cervelli previously played second base on July 31, 2011.

"I love to catch but that situation I'm going to do what the manager says," Cervelli said. "I put my chest if needed to block a ball or catch a groundball."

Cano said he last took grounders at short during spring training, while Cervelli often takes infield practice. The Yankees ran out of position players because Eduardo Nunez was not available due to a right wrist contusion, and shortstop Jayson Nix was pinch-hit for in the eighth as Girardi sent up Brennan Boesch with the Yankees down 5-3 with two on and two outs. Boesch struck out.

While neither player had a ball hit their way, Cano was confident he could have made a play.

"If they hit me ground balls, I was ready," he said.