By Jon Lane
The Yankees announced this afternoon in Clearwater that Kei Igawa has been reassigned to the Minor League camp. Such ends the worrisome thought that the left-hander would make the big club.
My guess is that they’ve been trying to buff Igawa’s trade value, which right now is the pits. Allow me to offer assistance: He was 14-6 with a 3.45 ERA in 26 games (24 starts) with 45 walks and 117 strikeouts in 156 1/3 innings pitched for Scranton last season. In 25 of those 26 appearances, he allowed four runs or fewer.
Well, um, he has good stuff when harnessed correctly. At best (generously), he’s a Quadruple-A pitcher who flat-out gets bombed by big-league hitting, but he could have some success as a fifth starter in a quiet market.
Hey, I’m just trying to help. Remember that the Brewers almost took him off the Yankees’ backs as part of a proposed deal for Mike Cameron that flamed out.
Igawa’s demotion leaves Alfredo Aceves, Dan Giese and Brett Tomko as contenders to make the team as a long man (Jason Johnson was reassigned over the weekend). The Phillies belted Giese for three runs on four hits in an inning (Chris Shearn’s live blog). Aceves is 1-1, 4.97 in five spring appearances (two starts). Tomko is 0-1, 1.46 in six games after pitching a scoreless inning in Clearwater.
At this point, with two weeks’ worth of exhibition games left, Tomko may be the one to stay north, but he’ll be neck-and-neck with Giese. Yeah, Giese may sport a 7.42, but he was also beaten up by heavy rains as well as the Phillies’ bats and has equity with Joe Girardi after stepping up as his long reliever and spot starter last season.
Aceves is a promising right-hander would only benefit from more work at Triple-A and would be called up should the bullpen require reinforcements.
Who should be the Yankees’ long man and why?
By Jon Lane
Well, I’m not IN Fort Myers, but I am following Phil Hughes and those who made the long trip via the airwaves. At Yankees home base in Tampa, Chris Shearn and Joe Auriemma are working hard to provide the latest news and special features. Stay logged on to the new-look YESNetwork.com throughout the day and weekend for exclusive updates and interviews.
Hughes is eager to bounce back from his first rough start of the spring last Saturday in Bradenton, Fla. He may be a victim of a numbers game in the rotation, but he’s had an impressive Grapefruit season and will only benefit from extended action at Triple-A as a starter. Even if you don’t see him up north until at least September, is that such a bad thing? That would mean the starting five will have remained healthy and Hughes will benefit even more from the experience. In June he turns a mere 23 years old, so there’s plenty of time and limitless upside.
Following Hughes against the Twins is Jason Johnson, Dave Robertson, Anthony Claggett, Kei Igawa. Remember that Johnson is batting eye cancer and Igawa has tossed 12 scoreless innings. That’s not a typo, folks.
Brett Gardner led off with a single against Glen Perkins before left fielder Delmon Young robbed Robinson Cano with a diving catch while fighting the wind. Gardner stole second base but Mark Teixiera grounded out and Hideki Matsui flew out to deep center to end the top of the first. I’ll have more updates as the game progresses.
1:22 p.m. Hughes shook off a one-out walk to Alexi Casilla to get Jason Kubel to ground into a double-play.
1:40 p.m. Three up and three down for Hughes, all on ground-ball outs. Give an assist to Teixiera on the third out. He scooped up a low throw to help retire Young. No score after two.
1:48 p.m. Gardner is 2-for-2. Kudos to Joe Girardi for not declaring a winner in the center field battle. Besides the fact that there are two weeks left in Spring Training, you want to keep Gardner and Melky Cabrera looking over their shoulders. Gardner has to hit consistently and Cabrera show he’s more than just a fourth outfielder.
1:59 p.m. Hughes held the Twins hitless until Mike Redmond’s one-out double. Nick Punto singled Redmond home, but Hughes recovered to retire Denard Span on a 3-3-6 double play.
2:24 p.m. Hughes is pulled with one out in the fifth. He must have reached his pitch count cap. Another good outing for the right-hander: one run on three hits with a walk and no strikeouts. Jason Johnson is in the game.
2:43 p.m. Teixeira blasted a solo shot in the sixth to tie the game, but the Twins have regained the lead at 2-1. Teixeira finished 1-for-3 and is batting .414.
3:13 p.m. Todd Linden’s solo homer ties the game 2-2 in the top of the eighth.
3:23 p.m. Yankees enter the bottom of the eighth leading 3-2 after a Francisco Cervelli sacrifice fly.
4:03 p.m. Yankees win 4-2, but not without some drama. Kei Igawa relieved David Robertson with one out in the ninth. He walked two Twins to load the bases and ran the count to 3-2 to Denard Span unil Span grounded into a game-ending double play. Igawa has now pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings, but his location was terrible. In short, it was shades of the Igawa everybody knows.