Darrell Rasner is among the last few contenders for opening day roster spots in the New York Yankees bullpen. He made his case for one of those spots on Friday.
Even if the 1999 Carson High graduate doesn't make the opening day roster and ends up in Triple A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, he said he's fine with that.
"Everybody's got to go out there and do their own thing," Rasner said, "and really not concern themselves with what's going on. We've got to do what we're capable of doing and go by that."
Vying for a long relief/spot starter job, Rasner turned in his best outing of the spring, pitching four innings of shutout, two-hit ball in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
"He threw the ball great," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "This is a good hitting club we faced tonight. He threw the ball well, and everyone who came in did a nice job tonight. There were some impressive outings."
While Mariano Rivera, Edwar Ramirez, Brian Bruney and Ross Ohlendorf all threw scoreless innings, it was Rasner who kept the Rays most off-balance.
Showcasing a sharper curveball, Rasner struck out four and walked one in a 68-pitch outing, starting the night game at Legends Field.
"It was a lot better for me," Rasner said. "I was getting ahead of guys, I was aggressive and for the most part, I was down in the zone, where I wanted to be."
Rasner, 27, lost much of last season to a broken right index finger, suffered at Shea Stadium on May 19, when the Mets' Endy Chavez hit a first-inning comebacker. Rasner tried to stay in the game, but he felt his finger snap when he threw a warmup breaking ball, walking off the field on his way to emergency surgery later that night.
Though he appeared months later on rehab with Class A Staten Island, Rasner was not among those recalled in September, when big league rosters expanded to 40 players. Briefly a free agent over the offseason, Rasner decided to re-sign with the Yankees with a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.
Rasner's biggest competitor for the long relief/spot starter position figures to be Jeff Karstes. Girardi has said that he would prefer to carry a long reliever with some starting experience at the big league level, a pitcher who could spot start as well as eat up four or five innings in a blowout contest.
Even if he begins the year at Triple A, there's still a great chance that Rasner could be called up sometime during the year. But Rasner believes he's right in the mix to be on the opening day roster.
"These are the last few days here in camp, and I'm still here," Rasner said. "I have a chance and I'm going to leave it all out there. Every day is important, especially this last week. I've got to compete."