Freddy Garcia: I'll go to bullpen

If absolutely necessary, that is.

Freddy Garcia pitched 6-2/3 innings against a squad of minor-league Pittsburgh Pirates -- I know, that sounds like a redundancy -- allowing just two hits and one earned run, which scored after he left the game with runners on first and second.

"Freddy's Freddy,'' Joe Girardi said when asked to describe how he thought Garcia looked. "He pitches. He changes speeds, he locates, he threw the ball well. Freddy was Freddy.''

But while Garcia said he thought he had pitched well enough this spring -- he has a 2.92 spring ERA -- to merit a spot in the rotation, Girardi would not go that far.

"He's pitched very well,'' Girardi said. "There's no doubt about it. This decision is not going to be easy and I want to have as much information as I can before we make it. And I've also said it doesn't necessarily need to be permanent. It's a great problem to have, but it's a tough problem to have because you know you're really going to disappoint somebody."

Garcia acknowledged he would be disappointed if he is left out of the starting five, but wouldn't be averse to starting the season as a long reliever, even though he's made just two relief appearances in his entire 13-year career.

"Right now, so far, I want to be a starter,'' he said. "But if it's good for the team, if I can help from the bullpen, I don't have any problem.''

"That's a great attitude by Freddy,'' Girardi said. "That's nice to hear.''

Garcia will get one more shot to prove himself on Wednesday when he and Michael Pineda , with whom he may well be locked into a competition for the final spot, will split the final preseason game of the spring against the Mets.

"I think I did a pretty good job to earn the spot, so we'll see what happens,'' Garcia said.