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Girardi stresses patience to roster hopefuls

Fifth starter, bullpen jobs open, but Yanks manager says they can't be won on Day 1

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TAMPA, Fla. -- There are some battles on the horizon as the Yankees knock off the rust this spring, but no one is going to seal up a roster spot this early in camp.

That's the message that Joe Girardi stressed to the team's pitchers and catchers before Saturday's first workout of the year, and the manager seemed pleased that it had been absorbed.

"With the open competitions that we have here, I had some concerns about guys trying to do too much," Girardi said. "And I didn't see that today."

The Yankees went through their first paces at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday morning, with about a dozen early side sessions and eight bullpens, highlighted by the chance to see Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova from the mound.

Tanaka was the focal point of that session, held on a back field outside the main stadium. Approximately 150 reporters gathered on the dirt warning track around the fields to observe, with many fans also crowding outside the chain-link fences.

The Yankees will use the spring to iron out a fifth-starter competition from the group of Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno. They also have bullpen jobs up for grabs, but nothing was being decided via Saturday's fielding practice and conditioning.

"I told the guys today, 'Now's the time to build arm strength,'" Girardi said. "That's what you're here to do. You're not going to make the team today or tomorrow or in five days, or in 10 days.

"It's not going to happen. That's been my message and I'll continue to state that -- that when you have open competition, someone doesn't get hurt and have a 10-day setback or a 15-day setback."

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.

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