NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Rafael Soriano made a nice first impression.
The Yankees’ reliever made his initial spring training appearance, allowing one hit in a scoreless fifth inning of New York’s 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday night.
The primary eighth-inning setup for closer Mariano Rivera, Soriano was touched for a two-out single by Andrew McCutchen. He struck out one during a 14-pitch outing that included 13 strikes.
“First time out, good,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I really didn’t expect a lot different than that after watching the way he pitched last year.”
Soriano was an AL All-Star last year, when he had a league-leading 45 saves for Tampa Bay in his only year with the Rays. He agreed to a $35 million, three-year contract with the Yankees in January.
Russell Martin had a first-inning homer, while Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano hit RBI singles in the third for the Yankees. Wednesday was the second anniversary of A-Rod undergoing surgery to repair a labrum injury in his right hip.
Pittsburgh starter Kevin Correia allowed three runs and six hits in four innings. He has given up seven runs over 8 1-3 innings in three starts.
“A couple pitches I didn’t really like, but I feel like I’m getting a ground ball when I need to, a strikeout when I need to,” Correia said. “I’m real close. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done. We are in early spring training and I feel pretty good about where I am.”
Correia had four strikeouts and three walks.
The Yankees appear to have a strong bullpen that includes right-handers Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson, and left-handers Pedro Feliciano and Boone Logan.
“I think the talent level is rich in this group of guys,” Girardi said. “Our bullpen at the end of 2009 was pretty special. I think this bullpen has a chance to be better.”
Rivera threw 35 pitches during a batting practice session before the game, and is expected to see his first game action Sunday or next Wednesday. The 41-year old right-hander has taken a slower approach at spring training in recent years.
“It’s about that time,” Girardi said. “He’s getting closer.”
Yankees right-hander Bartolo Colon gave up two runs and four hits in four innings. He struck out seven and hit a batter.
Steve Pearce had a sacrifice fly and Chris Synder hit an RBI single off Colon during the second inning. The Pirates finished with nine hits, but struck out 16 times against five New York pitchers.
Colon is competing with Freddy Garcia, Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre for one of the final two spots in the rotation behind CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett. Garcia, Nova and Mitre have combined for 15 scoreless innings.
“It helps you sleep a little bit better early in camp,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “I’m pleased with the competition so far.”
Girardi said the long man out of the bullpen will probably come from the back of the rotation competition.
Andruw Jones added a solo homer for the Yankees in the fifth.
Notes: Former New York OF Bernie Williams threw the ceremonial first pitch, and will stay in camp as a guest instructor until Saturday. … Yankees spring training instructor Reggie Jackson is expected at camp in the next week. He experienced back problems during the offseason. … Sabathia and Roy Halladay are the scheduled starters for Thursday’s game in Clearwater between the Yankees and Philadelphia.
How many saves do you expect from Soriano this season? Let us know in the comments below…
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