Phelps, 25, posted a 2.08 ERA in seven appearances (one start) during Grapefruit League play with New York. Because of an injury to right-hander Michael Pineda, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Phelps finished his spring by edging D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren to serve as the club's long reliever.
"He had a very good camp," Girardi said. "They're all so close. It was a very difficult decision that really came down to the last day. They're so close; we just chose him. He's a guy that holds runners, has three or four pitches and performed well at Triple-A. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has been pretty good."
Mitchell and Warren will report instead to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Before the Yankees' 8-3 Grapefruit League victory over the Mets on Wednesday, Phelps was presented with the 2012 James P. Dawson Award, issued annually to the top rookie in Yankees spring camp.
Voted on by the Yankees' beat reporters, the award was established in honor of James P. Dawson (1896-1953), who began a 45-year career with The New York Times as a copy boy in 1908. Eight years later, he became boxing editor and covered boxing and baseball until his death during Spring Training in '53.
In conjunction with the award, Phelps received an Elysee watch from Manfredi Jewelers. Phelps received the award in a pregame ceremony from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News, representing the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.