PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- It is "fair to say" that Francisco Cervelli can plan on being a member of the Yankees' Opening Day roster, according to manager Joe Girardi, and the catcher's throwing has been his most improved attribute of the spring.
Cervelli nabbed another two runners at second base in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Rays at Charlotte Sports Park, continuing his strong showing in camp as the Yankees bank on important defensive contributions from their catching tandem.
Cervelli is 5-for-7 in throwing out runners attempting to steal this spring and, with coach Tony Pena's absence due to the World Baseball Classic, Cervelli said that he has been huddling with Girardi and coach Don Wakamatsu for advice.
"I feel good; couple good ones today," Cervelli said. "I've been working every day, so I feel good, more relaxed behind the plate. I've been working with Joe and Wakamatsu on a lot of things, receiving and throwing, so it's going to help me a lot."
After being shipped to the Minor Leagues at the end of camp last spring, Cervelli arrived in what appeared to be a three-headed competition for playing time with last season's backup, Chris Stewart, and prospect Austin Romine.
Romine was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, and while Girardi hasn't outlined how much he will play Cervelli and Stewart, it seems safe to say they will split the Yankees' catching duties this year.
"I'm going to be happy when I see my name on the first game, but I'm not thinking about that," Cervelli said. "I just come every day, play, work and that's it. Let them decide what's going to happen."
Cervelli showcased his cleaner throwing form on two Ivan Nova pitches in the dirt on Tuesday, throwing out Mike Fontenot in the first inning and Leslie Anderson in the fourth inning.
"He's worked really hard," Girardi said. "His blocking the baseball was outstanding today, coming up and making two throws. That's something that's rushed in a sense, because that play happens very fast. He didn't try to do too much; put the ball right on the bag, so that's good. I've liked what he's done."
Francisco ready to compete for roster spot
TAMPA, Fla. -- Ben Francisco has joined the Yankees with hopes of grabbing a roster spot. At the very least, the well-traveled outfielder has a new set of team attire to add to his collection.
Francisco tried on his Yankees-issued garb for the first time on Tuesday, having requested his release from the Indians this week. New York is Francisco's fifth club since the beginning of 2012, a trek that has also included stops with the Blue Jays, Astros and Rays.
"I was hoping to stay on one team this year, but obviously that didn't go so well yet," Francisco said. "Hopefully I'll be here for a while."
Francisco, 31, batted .234 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 51 games last season, when he was traded twice and also spent time on the disabled list. Francisco is expected to make his Yankees spring debut on Wednesday against Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee.
Francisco said he had been deciding between the Yankees and Indians this past winter, ultimately choosing Cleveland because he thought he had a better chance of playing a contributing role.
The Indians' landscape changed when Michael Bourn signed a four-year, $48 million deal in February, and the Yankees now expect to be without Curtis Granderson until early May with a fractured right forearm.
Francisco will join a group that includes veterans Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera in competing to play some outfield and hit against left-handed pitching.
"That's what they've communicated to me, that there's an opportunity," Francisco said. "We felt like it was a better one here, so we asked to get out of Cleveland and they were nice enough to let me do that and come here and compete. I'm looking forward to going out there and playing and winning a job."
• Yankees captain Derek Jeter is expected to play shortstop on Wednesday, marking his first appearance in the field since Game 1 of last year's American League Championship Series.
Jeter has played in two spring games as a designated hitter as he returns from a left ankle injury, and told reporters in Tampa that he is ready to bring his glove into the field for Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Phillies.
• Saturday's game against the Phillies at George M. Steinbrenner Field has been moved to a 12:05 p.m. ET start to better accommodate that day's Kenny Chesney concert at adjacent Raymond James Stadium.
• Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda threw 35 pitches, including sliders, during a bullpen session on Tuesday. Pineda is continuing to hit all of his checkpoints as he rehabs from right labrum surgery, and though he will not pitch in a game this spring, the Yankees believe he could return in June.
• Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira will rejoin the club in Florida this weekend as he begins his rehab from a right forearm strain. General manager Brian Cashman had initially said that Teixeira would rehab from the injury in New York.