Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Phelps, Nova battling it out

If David Phelps and Ivan Nova were heavyweight boxers they would be in the middle of the ring, standing toe-to-toe, and throwing haymakers.  Thankfully, their competition is more peaceful as they battle for the number five spot in the Yankees starting rotation.

Nova was the latest of the two pitchers to step up with a solid outing. Against a Tampa Bay Rays team that featured just a few regulars, Nova tossed four scoreless innings on Tuesday afternoon. He allowed four hits, didn't walk a batter, and struck out two.

In three starts this spring Nova has allowed just one earned run in nine innings pitched and also issued one free pass. He's had to be that good, because Phelps has been his equal if not better.

The Notre Dame product has allowed one earned run in 14 innings pitched, 10 hits, walked three and struck out six. Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman do not have an easy decision ahead of themselves. That could change if Phil Hughes isn't able to go when the regular season starts. Nova and Phelps would then fill the number four and five spots.

On Monday Hughes threw his first bullpen session since mid-February when a bulging disc was discovered in his upper back. The Yankees are being extremely cautious in getting Hughes' back and arm back into game shape.

Next up for Hughes will be throwing batting practice on Thursday and then a simulated game at some point. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild has a schedule set up for Hughes, but declined to share it with the media.

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