TAMPA, Fla. – Nick Swisher showed up again in minor league camp, and this time, he brought a bunch of his New York Yankees buddies with him.
Just call it a big day for the big leaguers who spent a Triple-A exhibition game Friday giving the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees a boost.
Not to mention themselves.
New York outfielder Swisher slammed a double off the glove of a minor league center fielder of the Pittsburgh Pirates, backup Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli singled home a run and veteran Freddy Garcia pitched six strong innings in his bid to make New York's starting rotation.
"I think I pitched good enough, and we'll see what happens," said Garcia, who's battling with four other pitchers for the final three spots in New York's starting rotation. "I get one more start before we start the season."
It all happened under the watchful eyes of Yankees manager Joe Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
Garcia pitched one-hit ball for six innings against a Pirates Triple-A lineup that included major league infielders Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez - who like Swisher and Cervelli for the Yankees - came down from Pittsburgh to get some swings in.
Fashioning a superb blend of fastballs and offspeed pitches, Garcia moved his pitches around and hit his spots while striking out four. He left the game after allowing two hits around a walk in the seventh inning.
Cervelli, who came down to catch Garcia, was impressed. Garcia said he was satisfied with the performance.
"I'm really happy," said the 35-year-old Garcia, who went 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA for the Yankees last season. "I want to continue working."
The Yankees have a logjam of pitchers battling to line up behind ace C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda in their rotation. The candidates include Phil Hughes, Garcia, 16-game winner Ivan Nova and recently-acquired Michael Pineda.
If Pineda - who's still trying to build arm strength this spring - doesn't make it, he could wind up starting the season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
There's no chance of that for either Swisher or Cervelli.
Swisher went 1-for-4 in his plate appearances as he tries to recover from a groin injury that kept him out of camp for the past week. It was the second time in three days Swisher's spent time working out with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's team in minor league camp.
"I can't get enough of you guys," Swisher joked as he joined minor league camp for morning practice.
Cervelli singled home Colin Curtis in the second inning during his 2-for-4 day, and barely pulled a shot with home run distance foul during his first trip to the plate.
"I feel good," said Cervelli, who's battled concussions among an assortment of injuries in the past. "I'm just looking to have good at-bats, hit the baseball well. That's all I care about."
In the lineup for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was Steve Pearce, the former Pittsburgh Pirate who signed a minor league contract with the Yankees this week.
The SWB Yankees will soon get former Oakland A's slugger Jack Cust, a native of Flemington, N.J. who was recently released by the Houston Astros. Cust was also signed to a minor league contract as an insurance policy in case 41-year-old Raul Ibanez doesn't work out as New York's lefty designated hitter.
Cust is expected to join Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this weekend, well before Thursday's International League opener at Lehigh Valley.
SWB Yankees at Lehigh Valley IronPigs
7:05 p.m. Thursday
Coca-Cola Park Allentown, Pa.