Lieber, who turns 33 in April, had a ligament in his right elbow replaced in August. He went 20-6 in 2001 for the Chicago Cubs, then was 6-8 with a 3.70 ERA last season before a ligament in his right elbow was replaced Aug. 7.
The right-hander has not ruled out pitching later this year, perhaps in the bullpen.
"I would love to get a taste this season, but it would be a bonus," Lieber said.
Lieber, a former All-Star who agreed to a $3.5 million, two-year contract earlier this month, figures to be part of the rotation in 2004.
"I've heard nothing but good things about how he's coming around," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I don't have to see him to know what he is healthy. I watched some of his games when he pitched for the Cubs. He was big time."
His deal with the Yankees allows him to make up to $16.75 million over three seasons.
"I think that this could turn out to be a real big move by the Yankees," Torre said. "He seems very comfortable. Not rushing this thing. He knows it's still down the road."
The Associated Press News Service
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