Yanks activate Bruney from the DL
Ramirez sent to Triple-A; Wang throws at Yankee Stadium
NEW YORK -- The Yankees reinstated a major piece of their late-inning bullpen bridge on Tuesday, activating right-handed reliever Brian Bruney from the disabled list.
Bruney will immediately slot back into New York's eighth-inning setup role for closer Mariano Rivera. Bruney was placed on the disabled list April 25 with a flexor strain in his right elbow that he attributed to excessive bullpen warming.
"I'm not sure exactly how sharp he'll be his first outing out, but it's good to have him back," manager Joe Girardi said. "We need him back and we need him to throw like he's been throwing in the eighth inning for us."
In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees optioned right-handed reliever Edwar Ramirez to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Ramirez had no record and a 5.19 ERA in 15 appearances, walking 15 and striking out 16 while allowing 18 hits in 17 1/3 innings.
"I have to go down, because I'm not pitching like I'm supposed to," Ramirez said. "I have to work. I have too many walks this year. They're right, and I have to pitch a little bit more and work on my location."
In what Girardi called "a change of scenery," right-hander Chien-Ming Wang threw a 50-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday at Yankee Stadium, with pitching coach Dave Eiland and bullpen coach Mike Harkey looking on.
"It's been a month, it seems like, since we've seen him," Girardi said. "We wanted to take a look at him and then make an evaluation as a group what we feel is best for him."
On the 15-day disabled list with weakness in the abductor muscles of both hips, Wang said that he feels "almost the same" as he did in 2008, when his season was cut short by a right Lisfranc injury -- one that the Yankees believe prompted a chain of events in Wang's kinetic chain that led to him posting a 34.50 ERA in three big league starts this season.
In two rehab starts at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Wang hurled 13 scoreless innings, including seven frames in an outing Sunday against Columbus. He said that Tuesday should have showed that he is ready to rejoin the big league team.
"I can keep my sinker down and I can pitch wherever I want to," Wang said. "They said it was better than before."
Girardi said the Yankees have not yet decided if Wang will require one more rehab start at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Their concern has been his command in the zone more than his velocity, which was clocked between 88 and 92 mph on Sunday at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"There's a lot of pitchers who have been very successful when their velocity has not been the same," Girardi said. "Guys that come to mind are Greg Maddux, [who] continued to pitch at a high level. Jamie Moyer is still pitching at a high level. That's a lot bigger drop-off than we've necessarily seen from Chien-Ming Wang. The bottom line is location, movement and change of speeds -- not necessarily velocity."
The pitcher who filled Wang's spot after his departure, Phil Hughes, is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Orioles, and Girardi said the decision on Wang would be independent of the results of Hughes' start.
"It's something that we need to talk about," Girardi said. "No decision will probably be made today. We'll sit down and talk about it as a group and figure out what we believe is the best step for him and us."
Additionally, catcher Jorge Posada (strained right hamstring) has rejoined the Yankees for this homestand. Posada had been working out at the club's Minor League facility in Tampa, Fla., but inclement weather there forced him to return to New York. The Yankees have not set a target date for Posada beginning to play rehab games.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.