Monday, March 15, 2010 Aceves hard for Yankees to ignore

The 27-year-old right-hander turned in another four strong innings in Saturday's 5-3 Grapefruit League victory over the Orioles at George M. Steinbrenner Field, allowing his first earned run of the spring but otherwise holding his bid together heading through the second half of camp.

Aceves served up a home run to the first batter he faced in relief of starter Javier Vazquez -- a solo shot to center off the bat of Garrett Atkins -- but the rest of Aceves' spring outing went smoothly.

Scattering three hits with no walks and one strikeout, Aceves exited with a 0.90 ERA through his 10 spring innings.

The Yankees headed to camp with Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes thought to be leading a pack that also includes Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre for the final spot in the rotation, but on a day when Gaudin allowed three runs in three innings in a 6-2 loss to the Tigers, it seemed to be Aceves who has stated his case most convincingly.

"It's impressive, because of the different things he's been able to do with the baseball," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He changes speeds, [has] late movement, pitches up and down. He changes eye level, in and out. He can do all of those things.

I really didn't think Aceves had a chance at the rotation heading into this spring, but if his competition continues to suck and he continues to pitch well, it's starting to look like more and more of a possibility.

While I think Aceves could probably be around league average as a starter, and could conceivably be the best fifth starter candidate in camp right now, I don't think a scenario that sees neither Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain in the rotation to start the year is good for the Yankees in the long-term, unless they would be willing to put one of them in the AAA rotation.

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