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Spring Training an evaluation period for Phelps

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TAMPA -- David Phelps has moved in and out of the Yankees' rotation since making his Major League debut in 2012, and heading into this season, he once again faces the question of whether he'll be taking the mound as a starter or reliever.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi admitted Saturday that Phelps' role will be a major question this spring, but he expects the 27-year-old right-hander to contribute somehow in 2014.

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"I think that's pretty fair to say, that you expect him to do something. He's thrown the ball well, and you expect him to continue to help us," Girardi said. "I think he's pretty much capable of doing whatever you ask him to do.

"There's a lot of things we have to evaluate this spring, and he's a big part, trying to figure out where he fits in."

Phelps told reporters earlier this spring that he would prefer to be a starter and believes he's capable of doing so, but he doesn't mind pitching out of the bullpen. Phelps will compete with Michael Pineda, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno for the fifth spot in the Yankees' rotation during Spring Training.

Phelps, who's gone 10-9 with a 4.11 ERA in 55 games (23 starts) over the past two seasons, began last season in the bullpen, shifted to the rotation in May then missed more than two months with a right forearm strain. He came back in September and pitched well in four relief appearances, but overall he finished the year with a 4.98 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in 86 2/3 innings.

So far, Girardi said, there have been no signs of the injury that held Phelps back in 2013.

"He has not had any issues this spring, but I do believe it's something you have to watch," Girardi said.

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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{"event":["spring_training" ] }
{"event":["spring_training" ] }