TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees reliever Clay Rapada is expected to begin the season on the disabled list as he returns from left shoulder bursitis.
Rapada threw 15 fastballs from the mound on Friday, but said that he needs to be able to pitch effectively three or four days in a row to help the big league club. Rapada believes he can be ready in April.
"I can be a small piece to the winning puzzle, but if I'm not fully recovered, I don't want to set back the team more," Rapada said. "If I can't go back-to-back days, I feel like I'd put a lot more strain. I don't feel like I'm very far off, but I don't expect it to be long."
Rapada, 32, was 3-0 with a 2.82 ERA in 70 appearances for New York last season, spanning 38 1/3 innings.
"He'll start the season on the DL. He's not on the DL officially yet," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "In terms of time frame, he's going to need a little bit of April, so he won't be ready. But he'll be ready, I think, pretty quickly."
Rapada's injury could improve the chances of right-handers Cody Eppley or Shawn Kelley making the Opening Day roster, and manager Joe Girardi also said that left-hander Vidal Nuno could be a possibility. Boone Logan is the only lefty locked into the Yankees' bullpen at the moment.
"We're still talking about it," Cashman said. "Obviously, Nuno has opened everybody's eyes and is taking a run at it, trying to force his way on. We'll go with one lefty or we'll go with two."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.