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Surging Pineda Looks Like He's Nailed Down 5th Spot In Yankees' Rotation

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- While the Yankees have yet to make anything official concerning the back end of their rotation, it's looking more and more like Michael Pineda has pitched his way into the fifth spot.

It appears CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda will occupy the first two slots, with the third slot an apparent toss-up between Ivan Nova and Masahiro Tanaka. The final spot had been a battle between Pineda, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren.

Pineda as the No. 5 is the best scenario for the Yankees because Phelps could easily transition to the bullpen as a one-inning option or long man because he has relief experience, while Pineda has done nothing but start since he broke into the majors in 2011.

Pineda allowed three runs -- two earned -- over six innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sunday. The runs were the first the big right-hander has allowed this spring and his 1.20 ERA with 16 strikeouts over 15 innings shows he's put behind him the shoulder injury that forced him to miss two seasons.

"I feel really good. Good energy in the game. You know, that's what I want. It's Michael Pineda energy," Pineda said Sunday.

Though the 25-year-old Dominican's velocity has yet to reach the numbers it hit when he first broke into the majors with Seattle, Pineda has consistently hit 91-93 mph on the radar gun and has developed a reliable sinker, which has led to a lot more groundball outs. That's always a good thing in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.

"He has been good. His changeup was good, his slider was good, and his fastball was good. I think his command is getting better, too, every time he goes out," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees had Monday off and Girardi hinted that an announcement on the fifth spot would come Tuesday. He also made it sound like Pineda had done more than enough to win the job.

"(We will choose) who we think is going to help us the most, and what we think is going to make us the best team," Girardi said. "It's more what makes us the best team than anything else. How do we put a 12-man pitching staff together that makes us feel the best leaving the gate?"

Loosely translated, the manager was saying that in addition to Pineda passing all of his spring exams, the guys that didn't win the job, Phelps, Nuno and Warren, all could see time in the bullpen.

"We have to think about our staff as a whole," Girardi said.

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