Rasner earns his spot with Yankees
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK – Still buzzing about landing Roger Clemens, the New York Yankees shipped struggling pitcher Kei Igawa to the minors on Monday and had a key reliever and their manager suspended on a busy afternoon in the Bronx.
The Yankees optioned Igawa to Class A Tampa to make room on the roster for right-hander Matt DeSalvo, who started Monday night in his major league debut.
The move kept right-hander Darrell Rasner, a 1999 Carson High graduate, in the big leagues after he pitched 5 2-3 shutout innings Sunday in a victory over Seattle. New York had planned to send Rasner right back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after his start, but changed course.
Rasner, 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in four starts. Rasner knew when he took the mound on Sunday afternoon that there was an extremely good chance he’d be packing his bags for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, called up simply for a one-and-done start against the Mariners.
He’ll remain in the rotation for now, scheduled to make his fifth start of the season Friday at Seattle. The assignment is fine by him, but it wasn’t something he’d even deemed possible.
“I didn’t think that far,” Rasner said. “I was just thinking to go out there and help this team. I have no control over that.”
The Yankees spent $46 million to bring Igawa over from Japan in the offseason and expected him to fill a spot at the back of their rotation. He has largely been a disappointment, going 2-1 with a 7.63 ERA in six games, including five starts. The 27-year-old lefty has allowed eight homers and 14 walks in 30 2-3 innings.
“There’s some things he’s got to fix, mechanically, we believe,” Cashman said. “He’s got major league ability, we have no doubt about that. We’ve seen it in three games. But we haven’t seen it consistently.”
Igawa will work to rectify his delivery with Nardi Contreras, the club’s pitching coordinator in Tampa, Fla.
“I want to emphasize on basics,” Igawa said through a translator. “I knew with the Yankees if you don’t show the results up here in the major leagues, the Yankees demote you to the minors. I knew that before I signed.”
Igawa acknowledged his transition to the big leagues has been difficult.
“It’s not only baseball, my lifestyle has changed completely. The rotation, the number of days in between pitching has changed completely,” he said. “It’s everything, so I’m going to make sure when I go down to the minors I’ll (figure) out the best way to adjust and get back.”
Right-hander Scott Proctor was suspended four games and Joe Torre was penalized one game by the commissioner’s office, a day after a skirmish between the Yankees and the Seattle Mariners.
The Yankees also said they want oft-injured pitcher Carl Pavano to see another renowned doctor before determining if he needs season-ending elbow surgery.
The team was trying to schedule an appointment for Pavano with Dr. Lewis Yocum in California. Pavano has already been examined by three doctors, including Dr. James Andrews.
“We’ll pull out all the stops,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “Clearly, I want to make sure that we have a really accurate reading on this.”
Proctor appealed his suspension, meaning he can pitch until a hearing is held and a ruling is issued. He also was fined $1,500.
“Thought it was a little strong,” Proctor said. “Whatever it was I was willing to handle it.”
Torre missed Monday night’s game against the Mariners. Bench coach Don Mattingly managed the Yankees in his absence.
The problems started Sunday after Josh Phelps went out of his way to barrel into Seattle catcher Kenji Johjima while scoring the game’s first run. When Phelps came up to bat again, Jarrod Washburn hit him in the back with the first pitch. At that point, the umpires warned both dugouts for the second time in three days.
Proctor threw inside to Yuniesky Betancourt in the seventh. Betancourt pointed his bat toward the mound, catcher Wil Nieves grabbed him, and the benches and bullpens emptied. No punches were thrown, but Proctor and Torre were ejected.
Proctor, used heavily all season, joked that the suspension would give him a welcome rest.
“They can wear me out pretty good before that,” he said.
DeSalvo’s outing made the injury-ravaged Yankees the first team in major league history to use 10 starting pitchers in its first 30 games. The 26-year-old right-hander was 3-0 with a 1.05 ERA at Triple-A this season.
There is more help on the way. The 44-year-old Clemens revealed that he’ll return to New York this season with a dramatic announcement from the owner’s box at Yankee Stadium during the seventh-inning stretch Sunday.
He’ll begin his workouts at the University of Kentucky, close to where his son, Koby, is playing for a Houston Astros farm team, and expects to be pitching in the big leagues by late May or early June.
“It’s going to be a huge lift,” good friend Andy Pettitte said. “I think everybody is extremely excited to have him back. I’m excited to be able to pitch with him again.”
Notes: Rookie RHP Phil Hughes (hamstring) is recovering quickly and could be back a bit sooner than initially anticipated, Cashman said. Hughes took a no-hitter into the seventh inning last Tuesday at Texas before getting hurt. He was originally expected to miss four to six weeks. … DeSalvo’s contract was purchased from Scranton. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Yankees transferred right-hander Humberto Sanchez (elbow surgery) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.