Wang trying to adjust to relief role
Yanks right-hander unsure when he'll get a chance to start
ARLINGTON -- Chien-Ming Wang can't tell you when he will get another opportunity to start in a big league game, but he knows that Phil Hughes' eight scoreless innings on Monday certainly didn't help.
Still in the unfamiliar role of a long reliever, Wang said Tuesday that manager Joe Girardi told him there are still no plans to insert him into the rotation and that he will continue with the Yankees as a reliever for now.
"He talked to me yesterday and said he doesn't know when," Wang said.
The adjustment to a patchwork reliever has been difficult and frustrating for Wang, who threw 13 consecutive scoreless innings over two rehab starts for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
"I was starting and pitching good," Wang said. "I have to wait for a chance."
He has made one appearance in relief for New York, allowing two runs in a three-inning outing on Friday against the Phillies, and is available for use beginning on Tuesday. Wang has spoken in a team-first manner, but the two-time 19-game winner would clearly prefer to be starting.
As of this moment, though, there are no clear-cut opportunities with which to give him that chance. Girardi said that Hughes will make his next scheduled start on Sunday against the Indians in Cleveland, which leaves Wang as a reliever for now.
"I think he's somewhat frustrated by it," Girardi said. "It's the way you'd expect anyone to be if you'd been through what he's been through the last couple of months. I believe he understands that he's here to help us, and we feel really strongly that he can be a big part of this club. We need to get him back to where he needs to be."
In an ideal world, the Yankees would have kept Wang on rehab for one more start and he would have pitched Friday at Pawtucket, but that Minor League trip was nixed when Joba Chamberlain was hit Thursday by a line drive and was uncertain to make this next start against the Rangers.
"It was what we needed, and we needed him," Girardi said. "Sometimes things are done out of necessity. It doesn't always go according to plans and what you envisioned. We needed him and now that he's here, we still feel that we need him."
The Yankees are still trying to figure out the best way to make it all work.
"It's kind of a tricky situation," Girardi said. "You don't want to give him a lot of work, because that means our starters aren't going long. But we do want to get him work and we want to get him back to where he was before he got hurt last year."
Wang has been told that the Yankees will try to make the situation as normal as possible, never bringing him in mid-inning and giving him his usual time to warm up, but the uncertain schedule of relief work has been odd.
"I know what kind of things I should do as a starter," Wang said. "I don't know what I should do every day [as a reliever]."
Girardi said that he finally had seven arms in his bullpen on Tuesday with Wang's availability and a roster move to replace eighth-inning man Brian Bruney, who is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday for another opinion on his aching right elbow.
Adjusting to the new landscape, the Yankees plan to mix and match the seventh and eighth innings between Alfredo Aceves, Phil Coke and Jose Veras, with Aceves viewed as more of a distance option.
New York recalled right-hander David Robertson from Triple-A on Tuesday to replace Bruney on the roster, but Girardi said that he would probably not use Robertson in the late innings right away.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.