David Phelps will enter spring training next week in a situation very similar to the one he was in last year — having to battle for a spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation.
Phelps comes into camp as one of the four starters that are expected to fight for the fifth spot, and will have some pretty tough competition to go up against, with Michael Pineda, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno also vying for the rotation spot.
And Phelps wants to winning the job, rather than settle for a spot in the Yankees’ bullpen.
“I would love to be a starter,” Phelps told the New York Post Wednesday after a pre-spring training workout at the Yankees’ minor league complex in Tampa. “I think I’m capable, but I will do anything they want me to do to help this team win another championship. I just have to go out and show what I’m capable of doing. If it’s not that, I don’t have a problem pitching out of the bullpen.
“I do want to start, though, that’s what I’ve done my whole career up until the last couple of years.”
Phelps had a good spring for the Yankees last year, beating out the likes of Warren and others for starting job, but it was also worth noting that his spot in the rotation was already occupied by Phil Hughes, who came back from injury just before Phelps was even able to make his first scheduled start of the season against the Detroit Tigers.
Phelps was moved into the bullpen, where he stayed until Ivan Nova went on the DL in late-April. Phelps had pitched well enough to keep his starting job when Nova was ready to come back.
He made 12 starts for the Yankees before suffering a flexor strain in his right forearm in July, sidelining him for the rest of the season. Phelps, 27, was 6-5 in 2013 with a 4.98 ERA in 22 total appearances in 2013.
“Everything has been taken care of — I feel great now,” Phelps said. “Every year we’ve been up against it. In 2012, we traded for Pineda, signed [Hiroki] Kuroda. We came into spring training with six starters. It’s good for our team, though.
“It’s always good to be having somebody pushing you. That’s great guys to be out there with. We’re not going to root against each other. If we all do well, our team does better.”