New York at Atlanta

W: D. Phelps (1-0) L: J. Walden (0-1)
HR: NYY - Z. Almonte (1),R. Cano (1)   ATL - E. Gattis (1)

Yankees 8, Braves 3


KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - While a bunch of aging stars try to get healthy, the New York Yankees have a chance to check out their younger players at spring training.

Zoilo Almonte homered and threw out a runner from right field, Francisco Cervelli began his pitch to win the catching job, and David Phelps threw two scoreless innings as New York defeated the bumbling Atlanta Braves 8-3 in its spring training opener Saturday.

Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira were about the only big names making the trip for the Yankees, with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Mariano Riviera among those still in various stages of rehab.

"I'm never going to say that injuries are a good thing," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "But this will give the kids a chance to grow up a little bit."

Cano also homered for the Yankees, who took advantage of three Atlanta errors and a passed ball. Freddie Freeman bobbled a ground ball at first, new third baseman Chris Johnson missed a popup near home plate, and second baseman Dan Uggla skipped a throw on a routine grounder.

New York broke a scoreless tie in the third with four runs off another Braves newcomer, Jordan Walden, though only one was earned because of two errors. Still, it wasn't as if Walden fooled anyone, surrendering a homer to Almonte on a 1-2 pitch and a double to Eduardo Nunez. The Yankees' fourth run trotted home on a wild pitch by the big right-hander, who took the loss.

The one bright spot for the Braves was Evan Gattis, trying to win a job as a backup catcher and outfielder. He doubled to set up Atlanta's first run, then drove a two-run homer halfway up the left-field berm in the sixth, cutting the Yankees' lead to 5-3.

"It was definitely good to see live pitching again and be in game situations," said Gattis, who quit baseball for several years after high school, bouncing around the county doing odd jobs and pursuing spiritual enlightenment.

New York put it away with a three-run seventh.

Phelps, who went 4-4 with a 3.34 ERA last season, is hoping to claim a spot in the Yankees rotation. He gave up three hits but earned the win, getting a lot of help from his teammates. In the first, Almonte made a perfect throw to get Reed Johnson trying to go from to third on a single. Cervelli ended the next inning by throwing out Todd Cunningham trying to steal second base.

Phelps said the banged-up roster "is good to a certain extent."

"You'll get to see a lot of the younger guys," he said. "Look at what happened last year. We had a lot of young guys, including myself, come up and help the team out. You'll get a chance to see more of the younger guys this spring - find out who they are, how they play and what you can expect out of them."

Cervelli went hitless at the plate but knows his chances of winning a starting job will largely be determined by his skills behind the plate. He's also brought a new attitude to camp, conceding he took it the wrong way when the Yankees demoted him to Triple-A last season.

"My first two or three months in Triple-A were bad. There was a lot of frustration," he said. "But little by little, I realized that things happen for a reason - a positive reason."

His parents played a big part of the turnaround, traveling from their native Venezuela to spend three weeks with their son when he was at his lowest point.

"When your mind is not there, it's hard to put things together," Cervelli recalled. "But my family told me, `Hey, you came to the States to play baseball. Be a man. Grow up and play some ball."'

NOTES: Atlanta starter Paul Maholm pitched two hitless innings. The Braves appear to be setting up their rotation to have Kris Medlen start on opening day, followed by Mike Minor, Tim Hudson, Maholm and most likely Julio Teheran, who will start Sunday against the Pirates in Bradenton. ... Adam Warren gets the start in the Yankees' spring home opener Sunday, when they host the Blue Jays in Tampa.


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Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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Players of the Game

E. Gattis
AB 3
R 1
H 2
HR 1
New York

Z. Almonte
AB 3
R 1
H 1
HR 1

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Eduardo Nunez, SS3110000 .333
    Gil Velazquez, SS2110000 .500
Robinson Cano, 2B3211000 .333
    Jose Pirela, 2B21210001.000
Mark Teixeira, 1B3001001 .000
    Luke Murton, 1B2000003 .000
Juan Rivera, DH2010100 .500
   a- J.R. Murphy, PH-DH1000100 .000
Matt Diaz, LF3000002 .000
    Ramon Flores, LF2000003 .000
Francisco Cervelli, C2000100 .000
    Austin Romine, C2012000 .500
Melky Mesa, CF3110000 .333
    Slade Heathcott, CF0000100 .000
Zoilo Almonte, RF3112012 .333
    Tyler Austin, RF1000003 .000
Corban Joseph, 3B2000000 .000
    Dan Johnson, 3B1100110 .000
a-walked for J. Rivera in the 7th
2B - Eduardo Nunez (1, Walden)
HR - Robinson Cano (1, Flande), Zoilo Almonte (1, Walden)
RBI - Robinson Cano (1), Jose Pirela (1), Mark Teixeira (1), Austin Romine 2 (2), Zoilo Almonte 2 (2)
2-OUT RBI - Robinson Cano (1), Austin Romine 2 (2)
SB - Melky Mesa (1, 2nd base off Walden/Bethancourt)
Team LOB - 7
Outfield Assists - Zoilo Almonte 1
E - Corban Joseph (1, Misplayed grounder)
New York Yankees
David Phelps (W,1-0) 2300000 0.00
Brett Marshall (H,1) 2111120 4.50
Nik Turley (H,1) 1100010 0.00
Michael O'Brien (H,1) 1222011 18.00
Kelvin Perez (H,1) 1100010 0.00
Branden Pinder (H,1) 1000000 0.00
Chase Whitley 1000100 0.00
HBP - Gattis (by Branden Pinder)
Pitches-Strikes - David Phelps 8-7, Brett Marshall 16-12, Nik Turley 6-6, Michael O'Brien 8-7, Kelvin Perez 6-6, Branden Pinder 4-3, Chase Whitley 7-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - David Phelps 3-1, Brett Marshall 5-0, Michael O'Brien 2-0, Kelvin Perez 1-1, Branden Pinder 1-2, Chase Whitley 2-1
Batters Faced - David Phelps 7, Brett Marshall 9, Nik Turley 4, Michael O'Brien 5, Kelvin Perez 4, Branden Pinder 4, Chase Whitley 4
Atlanta Braves
Andrelton Simmons, SS3000012 .000
    Ramiro Pena, 2B2000012 .000
Reed Johnson, LF3010002 .333
    Jordan Parraz, LF-RF1000001 .333
Freddie Freeman, 1B3120011 .600
    Ernesto Mejia, 1B1000000 .333
Dan Uggla, 2B2100112 .250
    Elmer Reyes, SS1000000 .000
Evan Gattis, DH3122000 .667
Chris Johnson, 3B3001000 .000
    Joe Leonard, 3B1000001 .000
Todd Cunningham, RF3010001 .400
    Joe Terdoslavich, LF1000000 .500
Christian Bethancourt, C2010000 .500
    Jose Yepez, C2010000 .500
Jordan Schafer, CF3000012 .000
    Tyler Pastornicky, CF0000100 .000
2B - Evan Gattis (1, Marshall), Christian Bethancourt (1, Turley)
HR - Evan Gattis (1, O'Brien)
RBI - Evan Gattis 2 (2), Chris Johnson (1)
CS - Todd Cunningham (1, 2nd base by Phelps/Cervelli)
Team LOB - 7
DP - Johnson-Uggla-Freeman, Uggla-Simmons-Freeman
PB - Christian Bethancourt (1)
E - Freddie Freeman (1, Misplayed grounder), Chris Johnson (1, Dropped fly), Dan Uggla (1, Throwing)
Atlanta Braves
Paul Maholm 2000000 0.00
Jordan Walden (L,0-1) 1341001 9.00
Anthony Varvaro 1000010 0.00
Yohan Flande 1111001 9.00
J.R. Graham 1100200 0.00
Daniel Rodriguez 1333300 27.00
Cory Rasmus 1100010 0.00
Alex Wood 1000000 0.00
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Pitches-Strikes - Paul Maholm 6-6, Jordan Walden 12-10, Anthony Varvaro 5-5, Yohan Flande 5-4, J.R. Graham 11-3, Daniel Rodriguez 18-6, Cory Rasmus 6-6, Alex Wood 3-3
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Paul Maholm 4-2, Jordan Walden 3-2, Yohan Flande 1-2, J.R. Graham 2-0, Cory Rasmus 1-1, Alex Wood 2-1
Batters Faced - Paul Maholm 6, Jordan Walden 8, Anthony Varvaro 3, Yohan Flande 4, J.R. Graham 5, Daniel Rodriguez 9, Cory Rasmus 4, Alex Wood 3
Game Information
Attendance - 9187
Game Time - 2:39
Temperature - 85
Umpires - Home - Greg Gibson, First Base - Lance Barksdale, Second Base - UMP Nonindividual, Third Base - Jeff Nelson