NEW YORK -- The Yankees have shaken up their starting rotation a bit for the final week before the All-Star break, flip-flopping Mike Mussina and Brad Halsey on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Tigers.
The move will give Mussina two starts before the break, though he will pitch Tuesday night on just three days' rest. He will follow that up by starting on Sunday against the Devil Rays, the last game before the break.
Mike Mussina / P
Weight: 185 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R
The right-hander went to pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre with the idea, to prevent him from going eight or nine days between starts. Had he pitched on Wednesday afternoon, he would not have thrown again until after the break.
"This way, it won't be eight or nine days, it will be five or six," Mussina said. "The difference between Tuesday night or Wednesday afternoon isn't that drastic."
Mussina allowed seven runs (five earned) in five innings on Friday in a loss to the Mets, throwing just 74 pitches.
"When he was getting racked up the other day, I took him out," said manager Joe Torre. "I figured we'd save what we could. I know he didn't do it on purpose, to have a short outing the other day to pitch on short rest."
When asked if he was rearranging the rotation to throw his top four starters against the resurgent Devil Rays, Torre smiled.
"I haven't gotten that phone call yet," said a smirking Torre, referring to owner George Steinbrenner, who hates losing to Tampa Bay. "I can't comment."
Close, but not yet: Jason Giambi, who belted a pinch-hit double on Saturday, remained out of the starting lineup on Sunday for the eighth consecutive game.
With no DH being used in National League ballparks, Giambi was unlikely to play on Sunday, but Torre said that he probably wouldn't have started Giambi even if a DH spot was available.
"He was seeing the ball yesterday," Torre said. "He was laying off some pitches, and I was pleased about that."
Torre said that Giambi would likely return to the lineup in a DH role on Monday or Tuesday against Detroit.
Earning their keep: Three Yankees relievers are on pace to appear in 80 or more games, which would break the team record of 79, set by Mike Stanton in 2002.
Paul Quantrill has pitched in 44 games, while Tom Gordon has appeared in 41 contests. Mariano Rivera has been in 39 games, finishing 35 of them and saving 29.
"This isn't unusual for Quantrill, in terms of the number of games," Torre said. "The games that Gordon and Mo have been in, we've won. It's remarkable how many games that we've needed setup men and closers."
Although the pitchers have been in an unusually high number of games, their work has paid off, as the Yankees entered Sunday's action with a MLB-best record of 50-28.
"They haven't been overworked," Torre said. "We're getting a feel for Gordon, because we know more about Mo. There are days we shut Gordon down that he doesn't want to be shut down."
Happy Birthday, Boss: The United States isn't the only one with a birthday on the Fourth of July, as George Steinbrenner turns 74 on Sunday.
What will Torre get the Boss for his birthday?
"Hopefully, today's gift will be a win," Torre said. "That's probably the only thing he would want."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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