- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - New York Yankees relievers Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances each pitched an inning in their spring training debuts Monday, a 1-0 loss to the Houston Astros.

Miller struck out Alex Bregman with two on to end the sixth. Miller will start the regular season as New York’s closer while Aroldis Chapman serves a 30-game suspension under baseball’s new domestic violence policy,

Betances allowed the lone run in the seventh on Max Stassi’s double to left-center that should have been caught. Stassi then scored on Andrew Aplin’s double.

“There’s plenty of time,” Miller said. “Being healthy is the most important thing.”

The Yankees were an AL-best 73-2 when ahead after seven innings and 81-0 with a lead entering the ninth last year, with Betances and Miller at the back of the bullpen.

Acquired from Cincinnati, Chapman threw a simulated game Sunday and could soon pitch in an exhibition for the first time this year.

Mike Fiers gave up two hits and walked one over two innings in his first spring training start for the Astros. He worked out of jams in both innings against a lineup that featured six starters, including Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez.

“As a pitcher, you want that,” Fiers said. “You want to pitch against their guys. You want to see the swings, and you want to pitch off that. It was a good day overall. Just another stepping stone.”

Flags were flown at half-staff and a moment of silence was held at Steinbrenner Field to honor former first lady Nancy Reagan, who died Sunday.

SPECIAL GUEST

Landis Sims of Elizabeth, Indiana, has had a dream of playing with the Yankees.

The 10-year old, born without hands and feet, fulfilled it.

Sims, who has prosthetic legs and special equipment for his arms for baseball, took batting practice, hung out with Rodriguez, had a locker next to CC Sabathia and went to the plate with manager Joe Girardi for the pre-game umpire’s meeting.

“Just a special kid,” Girardi said. “I think he’s overcome extraordinary obstacles to be the kid he wants to be. That’s a lesson for all of us.”

New York said the team gave Sims a minor league contract.

STARTING TIME

Astros: Fiers went 7-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 31 games combined with Milwaukee and Houston last year.

Yankees: Michael Pineda struck out three and allowed two hits over two innings. … Luis Severino followed Pineda and gave up two hits, hit a batter and struck out three in three innings. … Masahiro Tanaka is to make his second start Friday.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Brett Gardner (bruised left wrist) took 17 swings during his first onfield batting practice session and could play next week.

UP NEXT

Astros: Doug Fister is to make his second start Tuesday, against Washington’s Max Scherzer. … Ace Dallas Keuchel makes his exhibition season debut Wednesday against Atlanta.

Yankees: Sabathia makes his first start since entering an alcohol rehabilitation program last October when the Yankees play Miami on Tuesday. The 35-year old left-hander was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA last year, when he was slowed by his surgically repaired right knee. Using a tighter brace, he went 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA in his last five starts.

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