Will Warren crack the Yankees' rotation?

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia is basically in spring training mode. And just the beginning of spring training mode, at that.

Sabathia threw in the bullpen Monday (no breaking balls) and will throw in the bullpen again Wednesday (perhaps a few sliders).

“No problems,” Sabathia said. “It’s encouraging going forward.”

At this point, it's more baby steps toward finding out if his right knee can handle pitching than it is a fast track toward a return to the New York Yankees' rotation.

"So far, so good," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday.

Sabathia, who last pitched May 10, isn't close to returning. He acknowledged that he's on an approximate seven-week timetable at this point.

“That’s what they’re saying, but I’ve been throwing the whole time and feeling good. I feel good and hopefully I can skip some steps,” Sabathia said.

Still, seven weeks is seven weeks.

Michael Pineda, who last pitched in a major league game on April 23, isn't close, either. He's not even scheduled to play catch until Saturday, Girardi said.

So does that mean the Yankees are stuck with their current starting rotation -- Vidal Nuno included -- for at least the next month, as Girardi said last week?

Perhaps not.

General manager Brian Cashman has suggested several times (including Monday) that Adam Warren could be an option. And Girardi suggested Tuesday that he might be close to considering that.

"There's conversations all the time," Girardi said. "Warren's been a vital part of our bullpen. He and [Dellin] Betances stepped up when Shawn Kelley was hurt. But we'll continue to evaluate stuff and decide what to do."

Warren, who has a 2.19 ERA in 30 relief appearances, was a starting pitcher all the way through his minor league career. He even started one game for the Yankees in 2012 and two last season.

None of that makes him an ideal candidate to start now.

For one thing, Warren hasn't thrown more than 42 pitches in a game this season, and only six times has thrown as many as 30. If he started a game now, he'd likely be limited to 45-50 pitches.

Adam Warren

Adam Warren

#43 RP
New York Yankees

2014 STATS

  • GM30
  • W1

  • L3

  • BB10

  • K36

  • ERA2.19

"If he threw 10 in an inning, that's five innings," Girardi said. "But he might not do that."

Then again, Nuno made it through only three innings in his most recent start, while allowing the A's to score eight runs. Nuno is winless in seven starts since May 7, with a 6.19 ERA.

The other issues with starting Warren are that he has been valuable in the bullpen, and that some in the organization believe he's much better suited to relieving. Warren's fastball has averaged 93.9 mph this season as a reliever, up from where he was the past two seasons.

Warren said Tuesday that while he had always seen his future as a starter, he has come to enjoy the bullpen.

"I've liked being in the bullpen more than I thought I would," he said. "I feel like I'm a bullpen guy right now, until someone tells me differently."

Cervelli in, Murphy out: John Ryan Murphy did well as the Yankees' fill-in backup catcher, but there was never any question that he was headed to the minor leagues as soon as Francisco Cervelli came off the disabled list. Sure enough, with Cervelli returning Tuesday, Murphy was returned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"He played extremely well," Girardi said. "But we think it's important that he goes down and plays every day."

Cervelli said he has worked at both first base and third base, and Girardi suggested he could use Cervelli at first base if Mark Teixeira gets a day off.

Memories of Tony: Girardi's perspective on the late Tony Gwynn came from having been a catcher who was trying to figure out how to get him out.

"He had no cold zones," Girardi said. "The old joke was that you should throw it down the middle, because it was the only pitch he didn't know what to do with."