Maybe he's just using it as a motivational tool, but Joe Torre has hinted at sending Kei Igawa to the minors until he's up to speed. With the amount of money Igawa has coming to him, it's hard to believe that would be the case, but it wouldn't set a precedent. El Duque started out in the minors, but of course he hadn't been pitching in any professional games for a number of years. Igawa may feel some added pressure, but he needs to show better command tonight when he faces the Phillies. He's allowed 4 runs on 8 hits in 7 IP, but the bigger concern is the 7 walks allowed. On a positive note, Igawa has struck out 12.
Some Yankees fans have gone over the top, already labeling Igawa as a bust (perhaps unfond memories of Hideki Irabu). Can we give this guy a chance to throw in some real games before we blast him? He's adjusting to a new throwing routine, a new mound, new teammates, new language, and a new city.
Jeffrey Karstens' bubble finally burst a little yesterday, as he continues to push Igawa and Carl Pavano for the 4 and 5 spots in the rotation. The 24-year old, who was impressive in his 6 starts and 2 relief appearances last season, had thrown 9 shutout innings before the Toronto Blue Jays roughed him up for 4 runs and 6 hits in 4 1/3 innings yesterday afternoon. Even if he starts the season in Triple-A, Karstens has definitely given the Yankees something to think about.
Are you a Man or a Moose?
It's only spring training, but I for one was relieved to see Mike Mussina throw 5 scoreless innings against the Pirates on Sunday. Moose's lack of command until then had to be at least somewhat of a concern. In addition to having trouble locating his pitches, he had gotten smacked around for 5 earned runs, 11 hits, and allowed 3 home runs in 8 innings.
Chien-Ming Wang's spring has been just the opposite of Moose's. A model of consistency, The Wanger has excelled in March, to the tune of a 2.57 ERA. He's allowed just 12 hits and 1 walk in 14 innings IP. He's also struck out 7.
You CAN go home again
Andy Pettitte's return to New York could become even more special if he is giving the opening day assignment. Joe Torre has yet to announced the starter, but sentimentality would say that Pettitte will get the ball. Pettitte has certainly pleased everyone thus far, tossing 10 shutout innings, while allowing only 5 hits, and embracing a leadership role.
The Usual Suspects
Mariano Rivera, Kyle Farnsworth, Scott Proctor. Those 3 names are etched in stone for the Yankees bullpen, but its difficult to tell who will make up those final 4 slots. Luis Vizcaino is the closest thing to a given. Ron Villone would seem to have an inside track based on comments made Torre a couple of weeks back. His versatility certainly is a plus.
Lefty specialist Mike Myers will probably clog up another roster spot...again. As much as I don't trust Sean Henn, I would almost rather see him on the squad than Myers.
That leaves 1 spot open. Brian Bruney is behind the others due to his early spring training back troubles, but he could still make the squad based on last year. If Karstens doesn't make it north as a starter he'd probably be sent to Scranton to pitch every 5th day. But Darrell Rasner has been effective this spring, and did a good job filling in last year, and could be a swingman out of the pen. Chris Britton hurt his chances yesterday with an awful outing against the Jays. He faced 6 hitters, only retiring one. Greg Zaun finished him off with a grand slam.