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Notes: El Duque still a no-go
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10/09/2004 5:42 PM ET
Notes: El Duque still a no-go
Hernandez unlikely to pitch in Game 4 or 5
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Continued questions about his health have been wearing on Orlando Hernandez. (Kathy Willens/AP)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Orlando Hernandez will not be available out of the bullpen in Game 4, and it looks unlikely that he would be ready to pitch in Game 5, either.

Hernandez did not throw on Saturday, and he didn't plan to throw on Sunday. Should the Yankees advance to the ALCS, Hernandez would throw a bullpen session on Monday to evaluate where his tired right shoulder is.

"I feel better, I keep improving," Hernandez said. "I still don't feel 100 percent. I still don't feel I can help the team on the mound."

Hernandez has not pitched since Oct. 1, when he lasted just three innings against the Blue Jays in Toronto. New York took 11 pitchers on the ALDS roster, in case Hernandez was unable to pitch in the series.

"When he has good days, I'm still hopeful that it's going to make him available," said manager Joe Torre. "He's too good in the postseason to just write him off as long as he's able to play catch. Once it happens, I think he can get it together quickly."

El Duque has been visibly frustrated by the repeated questions about his health, getting snippy with reporters on Friday. Saturday, he admitted that the whole thing has been wearing on him.

"A little bit, but I don't have any control about it," he said. "I don't have any pain. I have to continue getting treatment and have faith."

"I think he's frustrated with not feeling as good as he'd like to," Torre said. "Having to talk about it, he knows how important these games are and he'd like to be a part of it."

When asked if he had considered just shutting it down for the year, Hernandez took no time in answering the question.

"No," he said. "I'm not a loser."

Brittle Brown: Kevin Brown's chronically bad back didn't stop him from throwing six solid innings against the Twins on Friday, but, according to Torre, the right-hander was feeling the effects of his outing on Saturday.

"He's walking around a little gingerly today," Torre said. "He looked uncomfortable after the game last night."

Brown allowed one run on eight hits in his Game 3 win, striking out one without issuing a walk. Should the Yankees advance past the Twins to face the Red Sox in the ALCS, Brown will likely remain in the rotation for New York.

"It wouldn't surprise me if this goes on a lot, but he's able to pitch in spite of it," Torre said of his back problems. "The times that he's had a problem is when it hasn't been the pain factor, but the freedom factor. He's not locked up, but he's not as loose as he'd like to be."

Looking ahead? With his team just one win away from an ALCS rematch with the Red Sox, Torre said he didn't feel the need to remind his players not to look past the Twins.

"I don't think so," the manager said. "They're pretty business-like."

Torre's Yankees have faced the rival Red Sox in the ALCS twice in the past five years, defeating Boston in 1999 and 2003. Although the Red Sox will present a formidable challenge, Torre hopes that his team gets a shot at Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and the rest of the Fenway crew.

"It's similar to 2000. We weren't looking forward to playing the Mets, but we knew that if you wanted to get to the World Series, you had to play the Mets, because they finished before us," Torre said. "Same thing here. It's not something you look forward to, but we're certainly looking forward to playing them, because that's the only way to get to the World Series."

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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