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Girardi on Pettitte's back spasms

In years past, the Yankees often led the charge in terms of making an offseason splash. But this winter, the Blue Jays were the active ones, adding several big pieces in an effort to reach the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

The Yankees will get their first look at the revamped Blue Jays when the teams open their season series on Friday night at Rogers Centre, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he is "curious to see what they look like."

"We know they're a team in our division and they've been a club that before their additions were tough to me," Girardi said. "They have a lot of guys that hit the ball out of the ballpark, they added some speed and some defense, and they've added to their rotation. And the additions to the rotation is experienced guys, it's not a bunch of young kids."

That said, Toronto will open the three-game set with one of its rotation holdovers, as right-hander Brandon Morrow takes on veteran left-hander Andy Pettitte. The Blue Jays have not won a season series against the Yankees foes since 2010. New York took 11 of 18 games last year, although Toronto won five of nine at Rogers Centre.

Despite the offseason maneuvering -- or lack thereof, in the Yankees' case -- it's New York that's off to the stronger start. The Yankees have won seven of nine despite a loss on Thursday, while the Blue Jays stand at 6-9 after Thursday's win. That puts the Bronx Bombers two games ahead in the AL East standings, although Girardi is not ready to draw any conclusions just yet.

"It's such a short period of games, I think anyone can get off to a hot start and anyone can get off to a slow start," Girardi said. "You don't make too much of it."

Morrow will come in riding a wave of success against the Yankees. Over the past two seasons, the right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.30 ERA in four starts, with 25 strikeouts in 27 2/3 innings.

On Sunday at Kansas City, Morrow (0-1, 4.60 ERA) bounced back from a rough outing, holding the Royals to two runs on six hits in six innings.

"His first inning, he was just so-so in Kansas City and then he kicked it in," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "It was a nice job pitching."

Pettitte (2-0, 1.20 ERA) is starting for the first time since April 9, when he suffered back spasms. The 40-year-old lefty threw about 40 pitches in a bullpen session on Tuesday and said he was fine with the team's decision to push back his third start of the season.

"I feel good. It was a good decision," Pettitte said. "I don't want to second guess anybody. I'll go Friday. It's not that big of an issue. Hopefully, I'll feel great Friday."

Yankees: Nunez to stay in shortstop spotlight
• Thursday's announcement that Derek Jeter will be out until after the All-Star break following complications with his surgically repaired left ankle means that Eduardo Nunez will continue to serve as the Yankees' primary shortstop. Nunez, who has shared time with Jayson Nix, is hitting .233 with only one extra-base hit, but didn't make his first error until Thursday.

"I think he's done a pretty good job," Girardi said. "I know he had his issues last year, but I think he's played a good shortstop for us. He's swung the bat OK for us. I think he's done a pretty good job."

• After a day off against D-backs lefty Patrick Corbin, designated hitter Travis Hafner should be back in the lineup on Friday. Hafner is hitting .342 with four home runs in his first season with the Yankees.

"He's healthy. That's the bottom line for him," Girardi said. "When he's felt good, no matter what his year and how many at-bats he's got, he's swung the bat really good against right-handers. That's our thought process."

Blue Jays: Injuries providing early test
• Slugger Jose Bautista was out of the lineup for a fourth straight game on Thursday due to lingering back spasms. Bautista has missed seven games this season and is hitting .200, although he has smacked three home runs.

Toronto just got third baseman Brett Lawrie back in the lineup, soon after seeing shortstop Jose Reyes go down with a serious ankle injury that is expected to sideline him for three months.

"[Bautista's] the anchor in middle of our lineup. That's a big bat, but we're not the only team beat up," Gibbons said after his team's loss to the White Sox on Wednesday. "But we haven't really seen them put it together yet, offense and defense, pitching. It's frustrating. The guys are trying, so it's one of those days where you got to fight through it, but you can't say it's early anymore. ... We need to start playing better baseball. That's for sure."

Worth noting
• Pettitte's 23 starts at Rogers Centre are tied for his most at any visiting park, and he is 15-6 with a 3.71 ERA in those outings. He also has started 23 times at Baltimore's Camden Yards.

• Hafner has taken only six of his 45 plate appearances against lefties this season, although he has gone 1-for-3 with two walks. He sports an .806 career OPS when facing southpaws. Comments