Betances turns heads with flashy debut

Betances turns heads with flashy debut

Betances turns heads with flashy debut
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Yankees' team bus rumbled over the Courtney Campbell Causeway on Sunday morning, and Dellin Betances had his earbuds in, pumping hip-hop tunes out of a shuffling iPod.

It was a few hours before the promising right-hander was to take the mound against the heart of the Phillies' Grapefruit League lineup, pitching in front of not only the Yankees' coaches but also a packed house and a television audience back home, and Betances dozed off.

"I just took, like, a 10-minute nap -- it was relaxing," Betances said. "I haven't been nervous at all. These guys are making me feel so comfortable. All I have to do is go out and do my job, which is pitch. That's something I love doing."

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And if it is true that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, at least Betances can rest his head tonight knowing that he made a good one. The 22-year-old struck out the side around a walk, firing a fastball that had the Yankees asking questions.

"Hey," Curtis Granderson asked a reporter, looking up from his locker and nodding toward Betances. "How fast did they get him?"

The answer, at least according to the YES Network, was up to 97 mph. Pitching the fifth inning of the Yankees' 7-3 win, the 6-foot-8 Betances struck out Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco before he lost Carlos Ruiz to a walk. Betances came back to fan Wilson Valdez for the third out.

"Pretty good for the first time being out there," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You kind of want to see how the kids react the first time out and what they do the next couple after that. I'm sure there are some emotions that go in there, some butterflies. There have got to be."

In Betances' case, apparently not many. He credited being summoned to Yankee Stadium for a handful of the team's regular-season games last September, saying that his time in the clubhouse has made his first Spring Training a more comfortable experience.

It also helped having buddy Jesus Montero behind the dish.

"He just came out and was like, 'Let's go -- you know you can do this,'" Betances said. "I've thrown to him so many times, and we always joke around here and there. Today was a little serious. When you get used to throwing to somebody, you get more and more comfortable."

Born in Washington Heights, N.Y., Betances grew up in a Lower East Side apartment before moving to Brooklyn, and he was no stranger to the Bronx -- family members took him to Yankees games often, including scoring bleacher seats for David Wells' perfect game in 1998.

The Yankees have said that Betances' next destination is an assignment to Double-A Trenton, where he made three starts last season, but he's hoping to get back to 161st Street sooner than later.

"I came in here knowing that it's going to be tough because I haven't had that much experience," Betances said. "I'm just going to keep working every time I get the ball. I'm going to try to make the best out of it."