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Betances ahead of schedule in spring debut

Yankees reliever set to join Dominican team next week
MLB.com @BryanHoch

TAMPA, Fla. -- The thrill of being selected for a stacked Dominican Republic squad in the World Baseball Classic fueled Dellin Betances' workouts this past winter, as he ramped up his throwing program ahead of its usual timetable to be ready for the tournament.

As a result, Betances already looks like he is in midseason form, according to manager Joe Girardi. An All-Star in each of the last three seasons, Betances made his spring debut with a hitless inning in New York's 8-7 victory over the Braves on Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

TAMPA, Fla. -- The thrill of being selected for a stacked Dominican Republic squad in the World Baseball Classic fueled Dellin Betances' workouts this past winter, as he ramped up his throwing program ahead of its usual timetable to be ready for the tournament.

As a result, Betances already looks like he is in midseason form, according to manager Joe Girardi. An All-Star in each of the last three seasons, Betances made his spring debut with a hitless inning in New York's 8-7 victory over the Braves on Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"I feel like my breaking ball is sharper," Betances said. "Now I'm just trying to work on arm strength. You don't have that many games until the WBC, but I feel like the adrenaline will kick in there and I'll be ready."

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Betances walked one and struck out one in the outing, throwing 10 of 20 pitches for strikes. Girardi said Betances' live batting practice sessions have been "fabulous," specifically citing the velocity and crispness of his pitches.

"I think he's further ahead than he would be normally, just because he knew that he was leaving," Girardi said.

Betances' next outing is scheduled for Saturday against the Tigers in Lakeland, and then he expects to join the Dominican team to pitch in Tuesday's exhibition against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Video: ATL@NYY: Betances discuss his spring debut, WBC 2017

"I feel like all the top players want to play in it, which is pretty cool that they're excited to represent the country," Betances said. "I feel like you can make two teams from those guys. Some of those guys that are even not participating are good enough to play and compete at the highest level. It's unbelievable."

The Yankees will keep a close eye on Betances' use in the Classic, especially because fatigue seemed to be an issue late last season, when he had a 9.64 ERA in 11 appearances after Aug. 31. In 62 appearances prior to that, Betances had a 2.12 ERA.

"I think you see how much he throws, how much he's used, and then you adjust everything accordingly," Girardi said. "These next two outings will tell you where he's at and how prepared he is for the season."

Worth noting
At the suggestion of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, right-hander Bryan Mitchell is tinkering with a splitter, which he hopes will help him secure one of the Yankees' vacant rotation slots. Mitchell hurled three hitless innings on Wednesday with a walk and two strikeouts.

Video: ATL@NYY: Mitchell breaks down his effort vs. Braves

"It's just a pitch that I have to trust and pretty much throw like my fastball," Mitchell said. "It's only going to get better the more I throw it. I think I've only thrown like three or four in games so it's tough to tell at this point."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Dominican Republic, Dellin Betances