With more serious discussions set to begin shortly, the Yankees have not ruled out that Ivan Nova or Michael Pineda could open the season in Triple-A, with Phil Hughes likely in line to grab one of the three remaining spots after his strong spring.
It is also possible that the Yankees, boasting pitching depth, could look to trade veteran Freddy Garcia since the right-hander is highly unlikely to accept an assignment to the Minor Leagues.
"There's no guarantee that the sixth starter goes to the bullpen," Girardi said.
Girardi raised the idea that the Yankees want to look at Minor League starters D.J. Mitchell, David Phelps and Adam Warren a little closer this spring, wondering if they could serve the big club in a long-relief role. Phelps turned in a five-inning start for New York in Thursday's 4-3 loss to the Orioles, while Mitchell threw 2 1/3 innings in relief.
"What's impressed me most about all three of them is the difference in Spring Training compared to last year," Girardi said. "Last year, at times, I thought they almost looked like they were a little overwhelmed or a little nervous to make a mistake. I don't question that now.
"What I've seen from some of the innings that these guys have put up, there's a totally different attitude from all three of them. That's the great thing; the power of going to Spring Training before you have a chance of really making the club."