TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Alfredo Aceves has more to worry about than the competition for the No. 5 starter spot in the Yankees' rotation.
"My family, my car. I don't know. I don't want a lot of things in my head," the soft-spoken Aceves said Saturday with a laugh.
It's easy to joke when your spring has been this dominant.
Aceves gave up his first hit and run of training camp in a four-inning outing, and a New York split squad beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.
Before giving up a homer to his first batter — Garrett Atkins — Aceves had been a perfect 18 up, 18 down over six innings. After Atkins, he retired nine straight then gave up two hits in the final inning of his longest outing thus far.
And Aceves is starting to stand out in a crowded field for the fifth starter spot that includes young Yankees royalty Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.
Chamberlain gave up six runs in his last outing. Hughes is struggling with his changeup. On Saturday, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre each gave up five hits and three runs with the squad that traveled to Lakeland to face the Detroit Tigers.
"I don't put too much attention on the other people," he said.
While the Yankees insist that no one has moved into the lead for the job because they haven't seen enough from each of the candidates, manager Joe Girardi is taking notice of Aceves, who has made just five big league starts in his two seasons in New York. He was a full-time starter his last three seasons in the Mexican League from 2005-07.
"One ball he got up a little bit, he hit it out, but I thought he threw the ball exceptionally well. Ahead in the count all day for the most part. Used all his pitches. Changed speeds. In and out. He's just doing what he does," Girardi said. "What I'm most happy about, he's ahead in the count all the time."
Aceves replaced Javier Vazquez, who pitched three innings and gave up two runs and four hits. He felt his changeup wasn't effective.
One of those changeups ended up landing well beyond the left-field wall, a two-run drive by Ty Wigginton. Curtis Granderson, making his first start in left field, could only turn and watch. But Granderson deftly handled three flies on a sunny, windy day.
He made one long running catch — flipping the shades down — near the left-field line, that caught his manager's attention.
"It wasn't an easy day to play left field, so I thought he looked pretty good," Girardi said.
Granderson also had a hit off Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie in a four-run first. The first five batters for New York reached against Guthrie in a 36-pitch inning.
It wasn't great. It was a lot of hits. It's not a great performance," Guthrie said. "My concern is to go out there and be more aggressive early in the count — get some quicker outs or even quicker results."
Guthrie gave up eight hits and four runs in 3 1-3 innings, the longest outing by an Orioles' starter this spring.
"The last 15 pitches that Guthrie threw were the best 15 pitches he threw in the game," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He went 65 pitches. I would have preferred he would have gone four, but 65 pitches is good for him."
NOTES: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner was in attendance. The Yankees optioned RHP Andrew Brackman to Class-A Tampa, RHP Christian Garcia to Double-A Trenton and LHP Wilkin De La Rosa to Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They also sent LHP Wilkins Arias, LHP Jeremy Bleich, LHP Kei Igawa, RHP D.J. Mitchell, RHP Kevin Whelan and C Kyle Higashioka to the minor league camp. ... Baltimore DH Michael Aubrey left the game after one at-bat with a groin injury. ... The Yankees batted around against Guthrie in the first inning. It's the third time an opponent has batted around against an Orioles starter in 10 games. ... Orioles OF Felix Pie is out with a sore shoulder. Trembley said it's from lifting weights.