Facing hitters, Brackman nears return

Facing hitters, Brackman nears return

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees right-hander Andrew Brackman got back on a mound against hitters on Saturday and is progressing from the tightness in his groin that sidelined him during the last week in February.

Brackman threw 10 pitches in batting practice and then a quick inning in a simulated game, manager Joe Girardi said.

"We were really pleased with his BP and simulated game," Girardi said. "I would expect that the next time we see him, it might be in a game."

Brackman has an outside chance of cracking the Yankees' bullpen to open the season. Girardi said that he "wouldn't necessarily worry about his stuff competing" at the big league level.

If he doesn't make the jump out of the gate, Brackman would figure to begin the year in the starting rotation at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.