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Bullpen hopefuls: Sergio Mitre

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I started a series on New York Yankee bullpen hopefuls Thursday with a look at Mark Melancon. As optimistic as we may feel about Melancon, and as much as we may want to see him in New York, I am not sure today's candidate will give you the same warm-and-fuzzy feelings.

Today we talk about Sergio Mitre. Yep, like it or not Mitre is unquestionably a candidate for the last spot in the Yankee bullpen. And if you want to believe Manager Joe Girardi -- which I don't -- Mitre is also a serious candidate for the fifth-starter slot in the rotation.

Mitre was anything but impressive in 12 games (9 starts) for the Yankees in 2009. He was 3-3 with a 6.79 ERA and a 1.626 WHIP. Still, he is a favorite of Girardi's going back to when Mitre, 28, pitched for Florida and Girardi was the Marlins' skipper.

Mitre might be serviceable as the 12th man on the staff to pitch mop-up duty or long relief in blowout games. I can live with him making the staff out of Spring Training only if the logic is to allow a "prospect" like Melancon or Romulo Sanchez to get regular innings at AAA until they are needed in the Bronx.

To me, though, the best spot for Mitre is in the Scranton-Wilkes Barre rotation. That way he can be stretched out and ready to step in if the Yankees need a fill-in starter for a couple of games. Plus, he won't be taking a bullpen spot from a guy with a bigger upside.