Phelps to make first start Thursday

David Phelps' friends and family were coming to watch the Yankees from Friday through Sunday this upcoming week, hoping to see him pitch in his native state.

After being promoted to the rotation Sunday, those plans are going to have to be moved up to Thursday. Phelps, a native of St. Louis who said he grew up about four hours from Kansas City, will make the first start of his career against the Royals on Thursday as he replaces ineffective veteran Freddy Garcia in the rotation. Phelps started in the minor leagues.

"I'm excited. Any time you are in consideration for a starting spot on this team, it's a big deal," Phelps said. "I just want to go out and pitch as well as I can."

Before Sunday's 6-2 win against the Tigers, the Yankees yanked Garcia from the rotation, and after the game, manager Joe Girardi made it official that Phelps will pitch instead. Phelps said Girardi told him he wants the rookie to continue what he's been doing as the long reliever, as he has a 3.57 ERA spanning 17 2/3 innings. Phelps' longest outing was 5 1/3 innings against Los Angeles on April 14 and he does not know what type of pitch count he'll have.

"I feel like I'm stretched out enough to go out there and give quality innings," Phelps said.

Phelps might only make one start before the Yankees promote Andy Pettitte to the Bronx. Off days allow the team to skip the fifth starter in the upcoming weeks and line up a start for that spot in the rotation when Pettitte is expected to return.

The 25-year-old was one of the final additions to the roster in spring training, beating out his friends D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren for the long reliever role. The three talked in spring training about how it would be exciting for whoever made the roster. Mitchell was called up Sunday and will be a long reliever, while Phelps prepares to make the jump to the rotation.

"It's exciting to see our hard work pay off," Phelps said.