Girardi says Kuroda in rotation

Now two spots in the New York Yankees’ rotation are secure.

Manager Joe Girardi indicated Tuesday that right-hander Hiroki

Kuroda will join opening-day starter CC Sabathia in the five-man

unit.

”We’ve got six guys for five spots … and you really can look

at it as, you’ve got CC and you’ve got Kuroda,” Girardi said.

”So, you’ve got four guys for three spots.”

Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia are

also in the mix although Garcia and Hughes appear to be competing

for the final job.

”Sometimes the five that you leave with aren’t the five that

you end up with,” Girardi said. ”We’ve got time, and there’s no

rush. You’re going to go with what you feel are your five

guys.”

Kuroda agreed to a $10 million, one-year contract last month.

The 37-year-old was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA for the Dodgers last year

and 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons in Los Angeles after a

long career in Japan.

”You signed Kuroda to start, you signed all these guys to

start,” Girardi said. ”Kuroda has a big track history.”

Nova finished a spot ahead of Pineda in Rookie of the Year

voting after this season and is in line to fill a spot. Pineda was

acquired from Seattle for promising slugger Jesus Montero in

January as part of a multiplayer deal and is expected to have a

place rotation. But there is concern he lacks a solid third pitch –

a necessity for a top starter – and is working on his changeup this

spring.

Hughes might be forced to the bullpen after struggling with

injuries and velocity last year. He could fall behind Garcia, who

was re-signed after going 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in his first season

in New York.

”There’s no guarantees,” Girardi said. ”You still have to do

your work, and do a quality job. How’s that going to work out? I’m

counting on all of them. That’s the way I look at it. We’ve got a

competition here.”

Also, reliever Joba Chamberlain has thrown off a full mound for

the first time in eight months after elbow ligament replacement

surgery.

Chamberlain made 16 throws during the session on Tuesday, and

said ”everything went great.”

The right-hander started working off a half-mound as part of a

rehabilitation program on Feb. 3.

”It’s just the last step in getting back,” Chamberlain said.

”Just to know that you’re on the mound. You’ve gotten over every

hurdle to this point, and I’m thankful for that.”

Chamberlain went 2-0 with a 2.83 ERA in 27 relief appearances

last season before surgery on June 16. He is expected to rejoin the

Yankees this season, possibly before the All-Star break.

”Will see how my arm reacts (Wednesday), that’s kind of a big

thing,” Chamberlain said. ”It feels fine when I throw no matter

what. Just the angle difference. Just different pressure on you

going up to a full mound. If it’s like anything else, it’s going to

feel fine like it has.”

Chamberlain will throw 15 to 20 fastballs off the mound again on

Friday, and hopes to throw curveballs in the next couple weeks.

NOTES: Former Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte, a guest instructor this

week, threw batting practice in an indoor cage. … 2B Robinson

Cano, who left the team following the death of his grandmother,

could return Thursday. … Closer Mariano Rivera said he will have

his second bullpen session Wednesday. … RHP David Aardsma (elbow

ligament replacement surgery), who agreed to a $500,000, one-year

contract last week, reported to camp. He is throwing at 90 feet on

level ground. … Spring instructor David Wells threw BP in a cage

to 3B Alex Rodriguez.