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Sabathia sharp, Jeter hitless as Yanks top Pirates

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

By MARK DIDTLER

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) CC Sabathia pitched seven sharp innings but Derek Jeter remained in a funk at the plate, going hitless in three at-bats during the New York Yankees' 4-0 victory Friday night over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Yankees captain fouled two balls off the area around his left ankle in the first inning, drawing groans from the Steinbrenner Field crowd, before striking out against Edinson Volquez. Jeter was limited to 17 games last season after breaking his left ankle during the 2012 playoffs.

"It's really not a big deal," said Jeter, who iced the ankle after playing seven innings at shortstop. "I don't know how it's going to feel tomorrow. I do it often."

Jeter had an RBI grounder in the second, hit another grounder in the fifth and is 5 for 41 overall (.122) in 14 spring training games.

"At this point of the spring, you want to hit the ball hard and we did twice," Jeter said. "It's getting better."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he's happy with the way Jeter is moving and there is no predetermined number of games for him to play during the regular season.

Jeter, who turns 40 in June, announced last month that he plans to retire after the season.

Sabathia, scheduled to start on opening day, scattered four hits and struck out seven.

"If I pitch like that April 1, I'll be happy," Sabathia said.

Pirates: Volquez allowed four runs - all in the first two innings - and five hits over five innings. He entered with an 11.00 ERA over four previous outings.

"I think I got better late in the game," Volquez said. "The tempo, the rhythm, coupled with my mechanics."

Yankees: Sabathia was coming off five hitless innings Sunday in Panama against the Miami Marlins.

Pirates: Left-hander Francisco Liriano continued to experience some discomfort, one day after leaving a start in the sixth inning with tightness in his left groin. The 30-year-old Liriano is slated to pitch on opening day.

Yankees: Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, scratched from last Sunday's game due to right calf tightness, took on-field batting practice and might play Tuesday.

Infielder Brendan Ryan had an MRI exam on his upper back and said it showed spasms are pushing on nerves. He could need a cortisone shot and might begin the season on the disabled list.

Masahiro Tanaka will make his next start for the Yankees on Saturday against Minnesota in Fort Myers, a two-hour trip.

Often times a team will have a pitcher throw in a minor league game and not make such a long trip.

"I think it's important for him, I do, to see the hitters and what he's going to be facing," Girardi said.

It will be Tanaka's fourth spring training appearance.

"For me, basically, it's wherever the manager puts me, and I'll just go out there and do my thing," Tanaka said through a translator.

Hiroki Kuroda will pitch in a minor league game Saturday.

KEEP ON McCUTCHEN

Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen singled in the fourth and has reached base safely in all 11 of his games this spring.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino threw two ceremonial first pitches to Yankees spring training instructor Jorge Posada - a baseball and a football.

The Pirates optioned right-hander Phil Irwin, and infielders Chris McGuiness and Brent Morel to Triple-A Indianapolis. They also sent right-handers Jake Brigham, Cody Eppley and Josh Kinney, left-hander Yao-Hsun Yang, and infielder Chase d'Arnaud to minor league camp.

Updated March 21, 2014

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