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Postgame notes: Pressin' Claiborne

3/26/2014

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees lost 10-6 to the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin on Wednesday, but Preston Claiborne, a useful piece of the Yanks' bullpen last season, may have lost something a lot more valuable than a preseason game: the confidence of his manager.

“The stuff has not been the same for whatever reason," Joe Girardi said after Claiborne faced five batters and got none of them out in an eight-run fifth inning. "When we got him up last year, he had been on a roll and he was throwing the ball very well. He has not been able to do that this spring, and it’s something that we’ve looked at."

Claiborne, who took the loss, allowed four hits and a walk and was charged with six earned runs. Obviously, he is not a candidate for one of the remaining bullpen jobs, of which there is probably just one remaining. David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton, David Phelps and Adam Warren are in, and Dellin Betances should be. The last spot could go to a second lefty (Vidal Nuno or Cesar Cabral) or perhaps to Fred Lewis, although he did not pitch well Wednesday, either, allowing two runs in two-thirds of an inning.

"I think we look at taking our best team when we leave," Girardi said. "In saying that, we have some tough decisions to make over the next three days, and it’s really less than that because we leave in three days."

Left-handed complement: Having a second lefty in the bullpen once seemed like a certainty for the Yankees. But it has become more unclear maybe now that Nuno and Cabral have had some rough outings.

"We always want to have two lefties, no question about that," general manager Brian Cashman said. "Our manager especially likes to do the matchups, so I think the way he runs the late-inning situations, two lefties are, in theory, a mandatory interest for us. It might not always work out that way, but it is something we will definitely shoot to have."

"We don’t feel that we necessarily have to," Girardi said. "But it’s nice having a couple of lefties."

Jeter's back: To back, that is. For the first time all spring, the Captain played a day game after a night game at shortstop, something he will have to do repeatedly during the regular season. Jeter went 1-for-2 (a single) and scored twice. He also played five innings in the field after having played six innings Tuesday night.

"I feel good where I'm at right now," said Jeter, whose spring average is up to .143 after hitting a low of .114 before Tuesday night's game. "For me, every spring it's pretty much the same thing. First you want to make sure you're seeing the ball. Then you want to make sure you're swinging at good pitches. Then it's contact and driving balls in the air is usually the last thing that comes. This year, maybe it's taken a little bit longer than other ones, but I think that's understandable, considering I haven't played in quite some time."

Ace in the hole: CC Sabathia will make his final spring start Thursday afternoon against the Pirates, in Bradenton, in what is expected to be an abbreviated (four innings or fewer) outing in preparation for his Opening Day start against the Astros in Houston on Tuesday. Sabathia is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA this spring.