Girardi: CC to get nod Opening Day vs. Rays

Girardi: CC to get nod Opening Day vs. Rays

NEW YORK -- Not all teams can definitively announce their Opening Day starter more than three weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, but in CC Sabathia's case, the Yankees see no reason to wait.

Manager Joe Girardi said that Sabathia is scheduled to pitch the season opener on April 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, though that was really no secret. A more pressing issue for Girardi is how he'll align the rest of his pitching rotation, and that has no definitive answer yet.

"I can tell you it won't be a seven- or six-man rotation; it'll be five," Girardi said, with a laugh. "If we were going to leave today, we'd have to make some tough decisions. It's something that we're going to take time to evaluate. I'm in no hurry.

"I can tell you that CC is in our rotation and that he's going to start the first game of the year. But in saying that, I'm not sure that everything is done before we go to Spring Training. Right now, we've got seven starters and we're going to have to make some decisions."

In addition to Sabathia, the Yankees have Michael Pineda, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda, A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes competing for slots. Girardi said that he would expect Pineda and Nova to be in the rotation. It's also unlikely Kuroda wouldn't, though the Yankees have not yet officially announced his one-year, $10 million contract.

That leaves Burnett, Garcia and Hughes to slug it out for the final spot, barring a trade.

Girardi said that his decision would be made by "who we think our best five starters are and how our 12-man staff works the best."

"Right now, it appears that we have a surplus of starters, but a lot can change," Girardi said.

The manager said that he was in favor of the four-player deal with the Mariners to acquire Pineda. New York sent catcher Jesus Montero and right-hander Hector Noesi to Seattle in exchange for Pineda and Minor League right-hander Jose Campos.

"Obviously you want the strength of your club to be your pitching staff, in a sense, because it all starts with that," Girardi said. "I think we've improved our rotation. We had a really good year last year and got a lot from our pitching staff.

"I think we've improved that. We've got a young man in Pineda that I believe has huge upside. Trades are sometimes evaluated in the first week or first month, but I think this trade will take a while to evaluate."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.