Yankees 4, Tigers 3

March 21, 2009 6:00:16 PM PDT
Rick Porcello has a bright future for the Detroit Tigers. The 20-year old, a first-round draft pick two years ago, allowed two runs and four hits over 2 1-3 innings Saturday in the Tigers' 4-3 loss to the New York Yankees.

New York, which has won nine straight spring training games for the first time since March 12-21, 2002, faced a pitcher who hadn't been in a game since March 9 due to a cut under the nail of his right index finger.

"It's all dried up. The finger had nothing to do with anything," Porcello said. "I think I found a rhythm at times, and other times I struggled to get back to it. I've got to do a better job of that."

An All-Star last season in the Class-A Florida State League, Porcello is competing to become Detroit's fifth starter.

"Today, I think you've got to be a little careful, he's been off for a little while," Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. "You take that into consideration. He's a very talented young guy."

Porcello went 8-6 with a 2.66 ERA in 24 starts last year at Lakeland.

"I think at some point he'll be a real special major league pitcher," Leyland said. "It's pretty simple. Make a decision if he's a big league pitcher right now or not? We know he's a big league pitcher. Is it now or is it later? I don't know yet."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi was impressed by Porcello.

"Pretty mature for a young guy," Girardi said. "Hard sinker.

He's impressive."

Nate Robertson, also in the mix for the Tigers' final rotation spot, threw four scoreless innings against Washington on Friday.

Leyland said another candidate, Zach Miner, is just about out of the competition.

"It's probably 99.9 percent that Zach Miner will not be the fifth starter," Leyland said.

In a matchup of potential future aces, New York's Joba Chamberlain gave up one run and four hits in 3 1-3 innings. The 23-year-old right-hander has had three positive outings after pitching poorly in his first two starts. He struck out five on Saturday.

"I threw everything for a strike today," Chamberlain said.

"It's getting better."

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera allowed one hit and had two strikeouts in a scoreless inning. He has three shutout innings overall.

Juan Miranda hit a two-run homer for the Yankees. Detroit's Jeff Larish went 2-for-5, including a solo shot.

Notes: Yankees GM Brian Cashman said 3B Alex Rodriguez (right hip surgery) continues to make progress in his rehab program in Vail, Colo. "I talked to him yesterday," Cashman said. "It's all going good." A-Rod is expected to be out until May. ... Tigers RHP Jeremy Bonderman, who missed most of last season after surgery to repair a circulatory condition in his shoulder, threw off a bullpen mound and is to make his second spring training start in a minor league intrasquad game Tuesday. LHP Dontrelle Willis also is to throw in Tuesday's game. ... New York C Jorge Posada said "it's all good," one day after playing consecutive games defensively for the first time since right shoulder surgery last July 30. Posada was to catch expected opening day starter LHP CC Sabathia in a minor league game Sunday. ... Yankees OF Nick Swisher (bruised left calf) was scheduled to play Sunday after missing two consecutive games. ... Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.