04/14/07 10:04 PM ET
Notes: Farnsworth spots flaw
Yankees reliever to make adjustment after recent struggles
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
It didn't ease the sting of a performance in which Farnsworth could not protect a lead for New York starter Kei Igawa, surrendering a game-tying home run to Nick Swisher, but at least Farnsworth might have a better idea of what he can do to fix the problem.
"I just need to get on top of the ball more," Farnsworth said. "I think I'm rushing myself a little too much. It's still early in the season, but it's something that I've got to get done right now. I don't want it carrying over."
Farnsworth, 31, is off to a shaky start this season, which is particularly troublesome because the Yankees believed they had found a way to better utilize the right-handed setup man.
By not using Farnsworth on back-to-back days, Yankees manager Joe Torre believed he could keep Farnsworth fresher and not run the risk of losing his availability to conditions like the persistent back spasms which nagged Farnsworth last season.
But Farnsworth -- who showed promise in Spring Training by compiling a 1.80 ERA in 10 relief appearances -- has not been able to make that early success translate to the regular season. In five appearances, his ERA is 10.38.
Torre said he spoke with Farnsworth before Friday's appearance and warned against trying to be too fine with his offerings. With a fastball that regularly clocks in the high 90s and has been known to touch triple digits, Farnsworth may simply not be leaving enough room for error.
"He's still having trouble locating," Torre said. "It'll come around, because physically he's fine. It's just a matter of finding that release point and groove, and being confident that it's going to find its way."
Farnsworth said that the adjustment is one that he has made before in his career, and that it does not require any tinkering in-between appearances.
Instead, Farnsworth said, he will warm up as usual when called upon and consciously make an effort to get on top of his pitches, trying not to drop his arm as he delivers.
That, he said, should cure the problem in a single day.
"Sometimes there's just something you try to overcompensate for and try to do too much," Farnsworth said. "The main thing is just not rushing and allowing myself to catch up."
Changing of the guard: With Doug Mientkiewicz mired in an 0-for-21 slump, Josh Phelps was given the start Saturday at first base, even though a right-hander -- Joe Blanton -- was on the mound for Oakland.
Torre said he took Mientkiewicz aside and explained the situation, saying that the move is not permanent. Mientkiewicz is batting just .125 in 24 at-bats and has not had a hit on this road trip.
"He certainly understands," Torre said. "In the next day or so, we'll get him back in there. Right now, he's fighting himself."
Meanwhile, Phelps said he has pleasant memories of facing Blanton, having gone against the hurler in his rookie season of 2005. Phelps has two doubles in four at-bats against Blanton, with six walks.
"I knew it was a possibility," Phelps said. "I figured one of these games here, I'd get in, just so I wouldn't get two series off in a row."
Comeback trail: Chien-Ming Wang pitched five scoreless, hitless innings in an extended Spring Training game against a roster of Devil Rays players Saturday in Tampa, Fla. It was his first rehab start as the right-hander makes his way back to New York's rotation from a strained right hamstring.
Wang threw 55 pitches, walking one and striking out six in the performance. He is scheduled to make his second rehab start on Thursday, which could come with Class A Tampa of the Florida State League.
"No problems," Wang told the Associated Press. "I felt stronger [each inning]."
Right-hander Jeff Karstens -- who hit the disabled list when right elbow tendinitis set in late during Spring Training -- is scheduled to pitch in a rehab game on Monday. Following that start, the Yankees will discuss the prospect of Karstens being activated to the Major League roster.
"Off of what he did in Spring Training, if the people who are watching him feel this is where he should be, we'd obviously take that advice," Torre said.
My guy: Darrell Rasner has made two starts this season for the Yankees, and for both of them, his old Triple-A catcher Wil Nieves has been behind the plate. Could there be a personal batterymate in the making?
"That'd be fine," Nieves said. "I would have a guy. That wouldn't be bad."
Actually, the Yankees' original plan was to have Jorge Posada catch all three games of the weekend series at Oakland, but Torre had second thoughts after Friday evening's game went 11 innings.
"If that was a normal nine-inning game, [Posada] would be in," Torre said.
Posada is expected to return to the lineup Sunday to catch Andy Pettitte, with whom he reported improved communication the last time they paired.
Busy mound: Before Sunday's game, injured hurlers Mike Mussina (strained left hamstring) and Carl Pavano (right forearm stiffness) are scheduled to throw off the mound at McAfee Coliseum, which should give the Yankees a better idea of their physical conditions.
The bullpen down the right-field line only has two rubbers, so the Yankees will have to also shuffle the workout so that left-hander Kei Igawa can get in his regular throw day.
Coming up: The Yankees play the final game of their two-city, six-game road trip on Sunday at Oakland, as Pettitte (1-0, 1.64 ERA) makes his third start of the season for New York. Right-hander Rich Harden (1-1, 1.38 ERA) will counter for the A's, with first pitch set for 4:05 p.m. ET.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.