Last year, David Phelps headed to spring training just hoping to make the Yankees roster.
This season, he'll head to Florida hoping to compete to be the team's fifth starter.
"I would like to," Phelps said before being honored with the rising star award at the Thurman Munson Awards in New York City. "I have no idea, anything could happen. I'm just going to go and try to help the team in whatever role that might be."
Phelps will likely be a top candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation after a breakout season in 2012. Bumping between the rotation and the bullpen, he pitched to a 3.34 ERA over 33 games, 11 starts, and had a 1.19 WHIP. He made key starts down the stretch and even replaced Ivan Nova in the rotation.
The Yankees have not told Phelps what his role will be this upcoming season, as there will be several candidates for that fifth starting spot, including Nova, but Phelps just wants to help the team in any way he can. His versatility helps him in securing a spot in the team's final 25-man roster.
One improvement he's hoping for this year is to take things slower and not make too much of situations, as he said there were times when he let the moments get too big. He pointed to two times when he entered games in extra innings with the scored tied and failed to treat it like it was just another game.
"I look back, specifically at moments where things got out of hand for me, I was trying to be a little too perfect, trying to do more than what I was capable of doing," Phelps said. "That's one thing I'm really coming into the spring trying to really take the reins on is stay within myself and just pitch to my ability and not what I think I need to do."
While the Yankees stayed quiet for the most part this offseason, other teams in the AL, like Toronto and Los Angeles, have loaded up. Phelps believes the Yankees can be as good as they were last year when they won the AL East crown and had the best record in the AL.
"Guys we have coming back, 95 wins last year, our rotations looks strong, our bullpen looks strong, can't argue with the guys we have in our lineup," Phelps said. "I don't see any reason why we can't repeat what we did last year."