Before Roger, there’s still Rasner
NEW YORK – Not even the New York Yankees’ first shutout victory of the season could compare to the more monumental news that Roger Clemens will be joining their starting rotation in short order.
On another day, rookie Darrell Rasner’s performance in the Yankees’ 5-0 win over the Seattle Mariners would have been cause for celebration. Sunday, it was lost in the shuffle because of the surprise Clemens signing and a near-melee on the field.
Rasner (1-1), a 1999 Carson High graduate who was called up from Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre to make a spot start, allowed three singles and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. He was replaced by Scott Proctor after giving up a two-out single and walk in the sixth.
“Rasner did a great job for us today,” Manager Joe Torre said. “Wow.”
Rasner might even have earned himself a lengthier stay in the rotation. The Yankees had planned to send him back to Triple-A today to make room for rookie Matt DeSalvo, tonight’s starter. After Rasner’s outing, though, Torre and general manager Brian Cashman said they might not make that move.
Before his start on Sunday with the assumption that he would be sent back down, Rasner said that he has accepted he would be optioned back to Scranton.
“There’s nothing I can do,” Rasner said, “except pitch well and leave a good impression.”
Even with the assumption he would be sent back down before Sunday’s game, Torre said it wasn’t likely the Yankees had seen the last of Rasner.
“He can come back in 10 days,” Torre said. “It’s not like it’s a life sentence.”
Even aside from the Clemens appearance, Rasner’s day was overshadowed.
With two out in the fifth inning of a scoreless game, Josh Phelps took out Mariners catcher Kenji Johjima while trying to score from second on Derek Jeter’s single to center. With Johjima in front of the right side of the plate awaiting Ichiro Suzuki’s throw, leaving plenty of plate for Phelps to slide across, Phelps went out of his way to smash into Johjima, who somersaulted backward as the ball got past him. Phelps then went back to tag the plate with the game’s first run. Bobby Abreu’s single then made it 2-0.
“I know that a line drive with two outs was hit to center field,” Phelps said. “I know Ichiro can throw. I had to get going. I had to be determined to do whatever I had to do to score that run, and that’s what happened. I just went out there, and I was going to be aggressive and make an aggressive move. We had a collision.”
Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn (2-3) retaliated an inning later; his first pitch was up and in and his second plunked Phelps on the left shoulder. Both dugouts were warned, and that might have been the end of it had Proctor not thrown a fastball behind Yuniesky Betancourt’s head in the seventh.
Betancourt reacted by walking toward the mound and pointing his bat at Proctor, who gestured back as if to say, “Bring it on!” Plate umpire Mike Everitt ejected Proctor and Torre as both benches and bullpens poured onto the field. No punches were thrown.
“It’s baseball,” Proctor said. “I’m not commenting on anything else, other than the game.”