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Betances showing he can handle pressure

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HOUSTON -- Dellin Betances was electric on Tuesday in his first outing of the season, and it is possible that the hard-throwing right-hander could work his way into higher-leverage situations out of the bullpen.

Betances faced the top three hitters in the Astros' lineup, with impressive results. Dexter Fowler struck out on five pitches, Robbie Grossman fanned on three pitches and Jose Altuve weakly grounded to second base in a two-pitch at-bat against Betances, who hit 99 mph.

"Really good," manager Joe Girardi said. "He came in, threw strike after strike after strike, got ahead of hitters, finished them with his curveball. It was really good to see."

Asked if Betances could become a late-inning option, Girardi replied, "He could be. He's got big stuff, there's no doubt about it."

Betances was ranked among the Yanks' top prospects as a starting pitcher but was converted to relief work last season in the Minors after battling control issues. He went 4-2 with a 1.35 ERA in 35 relief outings with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2013 and had an 0.73 ERA in 12 1/3 innings this spring, making his first Opening Day roster.

"I think it's that he's adjusted to his role, number one," Girardi said. "It's confidence, it's maturing. As much confidence as you might have in your ability, there's always that little bit of doubt. And some get over that sooner than others."

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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