CLEARWATER, Fla. — The competition for the No. 5 spot in the Yankees' rotation has begun.
Deivi García made his first appearance of the spring on Thursday, facing the Philadelphia Phillies. Take away two pitches from his two innings of work, and the right-hander was magnificent.
"First outing out there and I felt really good," García said through the Yankees' interpreter. "I felt very comfortable with all my pitches today. I did miss two pitches there and I paid consequences but overall felt really good."
Those two pitches he wishes he could have back resulted in two runs on the board.
In the first, García was one strike away from retiring the side when center fielder Scott Kingery pounced on a changeup left up in the zone.
Later, leading off the bottom of the second, right fielder Odúbel Herrera absolutely demolished a fastball over the heart of the plate, sending it 373 feet to straightaway right.
Asked if he felt any extra pressure to perform in his first appearance of the spring, considering the stakes are high in battling for a spot in the rotation, García said he's only focusing on what he can control.
"We have so much talent here. We have a lot of young players that have so many different abilities," he said. "I think the key for me is to stay healthy. I think if I'm able to stay healthy, that's what's going to give me the best chance at helping this team."
Right-hander Domingo Germán, coming off his 81-game suspension for violating the league's domestic violence policy, is expected to make his first start of the spring in New York's next game on Friday. Others that could contend for starts once the regular season begins include Michael King, Nick Nelson and non-roster invitee Jhoulys Chacín.
Yankees first baseman Luke Voit said Thursday that he's particularly impressed with García's demeanor, something you don't always see with a player that's only 21 years old. It won't be Voit's decision when the time comes to choose García's role, but the slugger thinks the right-hander will get a shot in the rotation.
"He seems like he's got a lot of confidence out there," Voit said. "I think he's got potential to be a pretty good starter in the big leagues. So he's still young, he's still got to locate. He made some mistakes with his fastballs today, but if he can get his command better, I think he's gonna be pretty good."
In six starts last year, García posted a 4.98 ERA with 33 strikeouts and 20 runs allowed in 34.1 innings. He was particularly impressive in his big-league debut, twirling six innings of one-run ball against the Mets at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 30.
Like any other pitcher on this staff, García will slowly work to increase his pitch count and ramp up to Opening Day over the next several weeks. In the meantime, the right-hander is focusing on putting what he's learned from his teammates into action when he takes the mound.
"It always has been a point of mine to listen to the people around me, listen to the people with knowledge about the game and learn from them. One of the things I've been able to do at camp is learn how to listen to your body and understand what's off sync at certain moments and find a way to make corrections."
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