Notes: Wright encouraged by outing

Notes: Wright encouraged by outing

TAMPA, Fla. -- Jaret Wright threw 4 1/3 innings of one-run ball in a Minor League game on Thursday, seeing his first game action since suffering back spasms on March 19.

Wright threw 69 pitches, allowing four hits and striking out four batters without issuing a walk. He said his back felt fine, putting him on track to be with the team for Opening Day.

"The way it was coming out of my hand felt good, and the velocity was there," he said. "I got everything I was looking for out of today."

"He felt good today," manager Joe Torre said. "He was throwing pretty hard, had a good breaking ball and seemed to be in a good frame of mind."

What Wright's role will be, however, remains to be seen. The right-hander appears to be on the outside of the rotation looking in, with Chien-Ming Wang and Shawn Chacon having all but locked up the third and fourth spots behind Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina.

The Yankees will use a four-man rotation during the first two weeks of the season, likely pushing Wright into a long-relief role.

"You'd like to do what you've done in the past," Wright said, "but when it comes down to it, to me, it's about playing."

Battery charger: Jorge Posada will be behind the plate on Monday night for the season opener, catching Randy Johnson against the A's.

It will mark just the third time the two have worked together this year, as Posada caught just two of Johnson's six spring outings. Kelly Stinnett has caught Johnson's last four starts.

"The only bad thing about the spring is that it seems like that every time I was about to catch him, it seems like something would happen and I couldn't catch him," said Posada, who missed one game with the flu and another after breaking his nose. "I want to make him understand that I'm there 100 percent behind and I want to be there behind the plate when he's pitching."

On Thursday, Posada saw his first action behind the plate since breaking his nose, going 1-for-2 to finish the spring with a .419 average. He will catch parts of the two games in Arizona, as the Yankees have an off-day on Sunday.

"I'm going to try to do my best to get him to win the game, and that's the only thing I can do," Posada said of Johnson. "I want to get to know him as much as I can, and that's the only way to do it. Communication is key."

Rivera ready: Mariano Rivera chose to throw a 50-pitch bullpen session to get some work in on Thursday, opting not to pitch in the game against Tampa Bay.

Who can blame him? Rivera has been so efficient this spring, most of his eight outings took less than 10 pitches to complete. In eight innings, Rivera allowed one run and one hit -- both courtesy of a home run by Detroit's Marcus Thames on March 9.

Top rookie: Eric Duncan was honored as this year's recipient of the James P. Dawson Award before Thursday's game, which is given by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America at the end of every spring to the top rookie in Yankees camp.

Duncan hit .414 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 18 games. He was one of many rookies to impress Torre during camp, as the Yankees got a look at several of their youngsters during the World Baseball Classic.

"In the 11 years I've been here, this is probably the best crop of young players that I've seen," Torre said.

Roster reductions: Scott Erickson was reassigned to Minor League camp on Thursday, bringing the total number of players in camp to 36. All of them will make the trip to Arizona.

Torre also confirmed that catcher Wil Nieves would be the final man on the active roster, taking one of the spots left open by Pavano and Aaron Small, who will start the season on the disabled list.

Coming up: The Yankees play the first of two weekend exhibition games against Arizona on Friday at 8:40 p.m. ET, as Wang takes on Kevin Jarvis. On Saturday, Chacon gets the start against Miguel Batista.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.