Notes: Rivera stretches out
Closer brushes off rough outing aimed at gaining stamina
TAMPA, Fla. -- Mariano Rivera pitched at the Yankees' minor league complex on Thursday afternoon, and if you didn't know better, you'd have thought he was preparing for a season in the minors.
Rivera allowed two runs -- both on solo home runs -- in 1 2/3 innings of work against the Phillies' Triple-A team, as he made his final outing of the spring. Rivera gave up a total of five hits, striking out three in the 40-pitch workout.
"I wasn't trying to accomplish anything, I just wanted to throw some more pitches," Rivera said of his outing. "I hadn't thrown more than 15 or 17 pitches, so I wanted to go over 30. I think it was 40 pitches, which was enough to get my arm loose. I'm ready for the season."
Rivera gave up a leadoff homer to injured outfielder Marlon Byrd on the first pitch of the game, then served up another in the second inning to minor leaguer Nate Grindell.
"The kids are hacking here. First-pitch home run, right away," said a smiling Rivera. "I felt good. I got to throw some pitches today, and everything is good."
Rivera hasn't given up two homers in a regular-season game since July 18, 1998, when Mike Stanley and Ed Sprague went deep against him in the ninth inning of a 10-3 Yankees win over the Blue Jays.
That was the only time in his tenure as a reliever that he served up two long balls, though he did it twice as a starter in 1995. That year, Luis Sojo and Ken Griffey Jr. took him deep in a game against the Mariners, while Geronimo Berroa and Ruben Sierra homered against him while with Oakland.
"There must be something about being across the street," said Joe Torre, referring to the minor league complex, where Randy Johnson was roughed up on Tuesday by Toronto minor leaguers. "Maybe guys don't want to pitch well over there because they may be left there."
That Rivera felt well enough to pitch an inning, sit down and then pitch another is a good sign for the Yankees, who had to shut down the closer less than three weeks ago with a mild case of bursitis in the elbow.
Rivera hasn't had any problems since returning to action, as he didn't allow a run in any of his eight Grapefruit League appearances.
"Even though we were told that it wasn't a big deal, until it really happens, you're always a little cautious about getting too excited to have him back," Torre said. "He really hasn't had any setbacks, hasn't had a day that he didn't move forward."
"I'm ready," Rivera said. "I'm right there where I want to be. I'm right there."
Moose call: Mike Mussina made his final start of the spring on Thursday, allowing one run over seven innings in the Yankees' 2-1 win over the Devil Rays at Legends Field.
Mussina finished the spring with a 3-1 record and 3.80 ERA, and he is slated to start Wednesday's series finale at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox.
"It was nice to have a smooth one," said Mussina of his spring. "I took my turn every time it was my turn, didn't have a game rained out. Three home games, three road games. It was smooth. I feel good for the last day of March."
Womack back: After missing the past two games with a bruised left knee, Tony Womack returned to the Yankees lineup on Thursday night and should be ready for Opening Day.
Womack, who was hit by a pitch thrown by Toronto's David Bush on Monday, started at second and batted ninth on Thursday, going 0-for-2 with a stolen base.
"Even the day he got hit, he said he would be in there Thursday," Torre said. "He was good."
Award-winner: Infielder Andy Phillips was presented with the James P. Dawson Award before Thursday's game, an honor given annually to the top rookie in the Yankees' spring camp.
Phillips was presented with the award by Pete Caldera, the chairman for the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Bubba Crosby received the award last season.
Phillips hit .333 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 22 games this spring. He is slated to be the starting first baseman at Triple-A Columbus this season.
Coming up: The Yankees play their final exhibition game of the spring on Friday, as they travel to Lakeland to take on the Tigers. Kevin Brown and Jaret Wright will each pitch three or four innings, as the Bronx Bombers travel home to New York immediately following the game.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.