TAMPA, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon's bid to secure a spot in the Yankees' rotation will begin on Saturday, as the right-hander has been tabbed to start the club's Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he believed Colon, 37, would be more prepared for the assignment at George M. Steinbrenner Field than other pitchers because he was throwing extensively in winter ball.

"I'm very excited," Colon said through a translator. "I'm very happy the Yankees and the manager considered me to pitch the first game. I'm ready to pitch."

Colon got his work in on a back diamond at the Yankees' complex on Tuesday, firing batting practice to hitters. His fastball seemed to have sizzle, but he also served up a long home run to catcher Russell Martin.

Colon has not pitched in the Major Leagues since July 24, 2009, when he was with the White Sox. He impressed the Yankees' scouts by going 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA in seven starts over 37 1/3 innings for Aguilas Cibaenas, the Dominican Winter League club managed by Yankees bench coach Tony Pena.

The Yankees have lined up their rotation to have Ivan Nova pitch the second Grapefruit League contest on the road against the Phillies, and will then fall into line with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia set to follow.

Girardi said that there was no final decision made on how he would set Burnett and Hughes to begin the season.

"Things might bounce around a little bit, but right now that's how we have them lined up," Girardi said. "To me, whoever's pitching that day is your No. 1 starter."

Sergio Mitre, also in contention for one of the Yankees' rotation spots, will instead be available in relief the first time through the pitching order.

Prior throws mound session in front of Girardi

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi was on the field to watch an early-morning mound session turned in Tuesday by right-hander Mark Prior, who is trying to revive his big league career after repeated injury setbacks.

"I thought he threw the ball pretty good," Girardi said. "To me it's still early. This is a guy that hasn't pitched a lot lately, and it's still early, but I thought he threw the ball OK."

Prior, 30, last appeared in a big league game in 2006 with the Cubs. He threw an inning at Triple-A last year in the Rangers' chain after being signed out of independent ball and is hoping a switch to relief work can help him get back to the Majors.

"That's my first goal -- to get back to the big leagues, earn my way back," Prior said. "I don't expect to get handed anything and know that I'm not going to get handed anything."

Girardi said that Prior will be considered for a big league roster spot depending on the results this spring.

"He is competing and we're going to watch him," Girardi said. "I think the biggest thing with Mark is you just have to see how his body's holding up and physically how he feels."

Bomber bits

The Yankees will have an early morning on Wednesday at George M. Steinbrenner Field -- it's Photo Day, with players due to be in their home whites, long sleeves and game hats by 7:30 a.m. ET. A sign posted in the clubhouse offered the following reminder: "Please be clean shaven." ... CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett threw bullpen sessions on Tuesday. ... Addison Maruszak has joined big league camp and is wearing No. 76. Maruszak, 24, was an infielder last year at Class A Tampa, but he is learning to catch as well.