Rasner unflappable for Yankees

Darrell Rasner made the exact pitch he wanted to make. It was a 3-2 fastball on the outside corner at the knees in a scoreless baseball game in the sixth inning.

Nick Markakis dispatched the pitch over the centerfield wall to give the Baltimore Orioles a 1-0 lead against Rasner and the New York Yankees. While the Orioles went on to win 6-1, and Rasner obviously wasn't happy with allowing the home run, he realized there was nothing he could do about it. It's this attitude that has been a key to Rasner's success.

The 1999 Carson High graduate has been the Yankees' most consistent starting pitcher in the past few weeks. He's been outstanding in all four of his starts since being called up from Triple A Wilkes Barre/Scranton and has posted a 3-1 record with a 1.80 earned run average.

And, Rasner has also been able to keep in perspective Markasis' success against him. Markasis is 9-for-11 lifetime against Rasner.

"You know I guess he's just real comfortable with me," Rasner said. "The last thing I wanted to do was walk him. You've got to tip your hat to the guy."

Rasner's focus has always been the next pitch he has to make and he said he owes his father, Darrell Sr., for the approach he takes to the game.

"We always talked about it, not to let things rattle you; the little things," Rasner said. Rasner said his father told him "just make every pitch and make a good pitch. I give him a lot of credit for that."

Another key to Rasner's success is he's never sought the limelight. Last year when Rasner threw 5.2 scoreless innings against the Seattle Mariners, he was upstaged by Roger Clemens' dramatic announcement that he was coming back to the Yankees.

Last week Rasner threw seven scoreless innings against the Orioles and the talk was about how Joba Chamberlain was eventually going to be in the starting rotation. Rasner never minded the lack of attention.

"I've never been out to grab headlines," Rasner said. "I'm not in it for other things. I'm in it to win games and just to do my job."

One would think that Rasner has earned a longterm spot in the starting rotation and Rasner believes he has.

But with Chamberlain eventually entering the starting rotation and the likes of Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, even though both have been ineffective and are now battling injuries, one can't be so sure.

Rasner stressed he still wants to be with the Yankees. "As long as they want me I want to be here," he said. "This is a great group.

"There's a lot of quality people here. This is a good situation for me. There's always the chance to win."

But like any Major League pitcher, Rasner admitted he wants to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues even if it's not meant to be with the Yankees.

"I know other teams know what's going on," Rasner said. "I know other teams know I'm healthy."

Rasner, though, doesn't dwell on his longterm future. "My whole focus is four days from now," said Rasner, commenting on his next start which will likely be on Sunday against the Twins in Minnesota.

And for now, Rasner's job is secure. Kennedy was placed on the 15-day disabled list, the soonest Hughes is expected back is July and before Kennedy's injury, manager Joe Girardi was talking about using a six-man rotation in June.

So with interleague play coming up where the Yankees will be playing in National League parks where the designated hitter won't be used, Rasner is now receiving his share of batting practice. The reports are that Rasner has been among the most impressive hitting pitchers during batting practice, although he isn't so sure.

"It's hard that I remember it," he said. "Things seem so much quicker. I'm sure it will come back."

Besides, Rasner said he's looking forward to pitching more to the opposing pitcher than he is to hitting. But Rasner also knows he'll have a chance to help himself win when he receives the chance to hit. "My whole thing is just go out there and compete," he said.

He already had the philosophy of not looking too far ahead, but that philosophy was reinforced last May when he suffered a broken finger during his start against the New York Mets, effectively ending his season.

"All of a sudden it gets taken from you," he said. "I was on top of the world. You never know what's going to happen."

Rasner, though, said there's nothing unique about his situation. "I my opinion that's something everybody faces," he said about life's uncertainty.

"You've just got to enjoy every day and have fun with it. You're not promised anything past today so don't worry about what you can't control."

A big part of Rasner's success has been his ability to develop a cutter or cut fastball. "It's given me another breaking pitch," Rasner said.

He said on days when his curveball isn't as effective, "I can go to the cutter and when I have both it's even better."

But with Rasner, everything begins with the fastball. "I want everything to look like a fastball coming out of my hand," he said.

"Fastball location is huge for me. You've got to be able to locate your fastball and then go from there."


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