Yankees Insider: Betances, Miller not worried about closing

By on March 23, 2015

Dellin Betances says when his name is called to be pitch, he’ll ‘be ready.’STEVE NESIUS/Steve Nesius for the New York Da

Dellin Betances says when his name is called to be pitch, he’ll ‘be ready.’

TAMPA – Joe Girardi isn’t worried about naming a closer before the season starts. The two candidates for the job don’t seem all that concerned about it, either.

Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller know they will be counted on to record important outs in the late innings. Whether that’s the eighth or ninth will surely sort itself out in the coming weeks, but neither pitcher is spending much time thinking about it.

“I don’t care,” said Betances, considered by many to be the leading candidate. “When my name is called, I’ll try to be ready to hold the lead, or if I come in with guys on, make sure those guys don’t score.”

Miller has been a full-time reliever for the past three years, serving in several different roles for the Red Sox and Orioles.

“I never got called into John Farrell’s office and told I was the seventh-inning lefty specialist or I was the setup guy or anything,” Miller said. “I think neither of us has been in a situation where we’ve been an anointed closer before, so it’s not like we can say that’s a comfort zone for us. When the phone rings, we’ll pitch, and until otherwise I have no problem with it.”

A year ago, Betances was simply trying to make the Opening Day roster for the first time. He wound up having a breakout season, getting selected to the American League All-Star team and finishing third in AL Rookie of the Year voting.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do last year,” Betances said. “I’m ready just to help the team win.”

The Yankees let David Robertson leave via free agency, signing Miller to pair with Betances as a late-inning duo. As long as Girardi plans to use the two in the back-end of the game, they’ll be ready when the bullpen phone rings.

“I think we’ve come to establish that closing, that three outs in the ninth inning … doesn’t have to be that specific as it has been historically the last couple of decades or whatever,” Miller said. “When they ask me to pitch, I’ll be ready.”

Betances led all AL relievers with 90 innings last season, roughly 20-30 more than most closers logged. He doesn’t know whether his workload will be as heavy this season, but the former starter is prepared for whatever comes his way.

“I know I’ll pitch a lot this year,” Betances said. “I don’t know if I’ll pitch 90 innings, but I know I’ll pitch a lot of innings because that’s what I want to do. I love pitching, and the more times I’m out there, the better I feel.”

* * *

Nathan Eovaldi will pitch in a minor-league game at the Yankees’ complex on Tuesday as Girardi continues to line his starters up for the regular season

Eovaldi has allowed one run on seven hits over nine innings this spring, striking out nine without issuing a walk. He’s worked hard with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on elevating his fastball and fine-tuning his splitter and off-speed pitches, something he’ll try to continue Tuesday.

“Last year, I was using two pitches, and once I started mixing in more pitches, the results were better,” Eovaldi said. “The more pitches you can throw for strikes, the better you should be.”

* * *

Jose Pirela remained with the team in Viera after suffering a concussion on Sunday when he crashed into the outfield wall. Pirela will meet with team doctors Tuesday in Tampa and must go through IMPACT testing before being cleared to play. … The Yankees lost, 7-6, to the Nationals in Viera. RHP Bryan Mitchell allowed two runs in 3.1 innings, while Chris Young homered twice and Brian McCann went deep once.

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