© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
06/05/07 10:00 PM ET
Notes: Basak gets first big-league call
Utility man's contract purchased from Triple-A Tuesday
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- Chris Basak had just arrived in Rochester, N.Y., and was looking for nothing more than his hotel room key. Instead, the Yankees offered him a travel itinerary and his first Major League callup. A 28-year-old utility man, Basak spent seven years in the Mets system before signing with the Yankees in November. Never warranting much consideration on the other side of town, Basak played well at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and, on Tuesday, finally earned the chance to unpack his bags in a big-league clubhouse as he had his contract purchased. "I was there for a long period of time," Basak said. "It was just one of those situations where maybe it was long enough. I guess sometimes you just get into a whole new situation." Basak's first call to the Majors would have been memorable for him, no matter where or when it came, but the timing was doubly striking, given the club's current location. Basak grew up in Joliet, Ill., and attended the University of Illinois, so he expected to have family and friends on hand for Tuesday's game, though he had to caution that he grew up a Cubs fan and went to Wrigley Field far more than U.S. Cellular Field -- his grandparents lived on Chicago's North Side. "You can't ask for a better time to come out," Basak said. The Yankees liked what they saw of Basak in Spring Training. He was a non-roster invitee to camp and became one of the last farmed across the street to the Minor League complex as cuts were made. Capable of playing third base, shortstop, second base and maybe a little first, Basak also played both corner outfield positions at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, batting .265 with five homers, 23 RBIs and a team-leading 14 doubles in 52 games. He was second on the club with nine stolen bases. Yankees manager Joe Torre said the Yankees would look to Basak to fill in wherever needed, and cited his behavior during the spring as an indication that he may be up to the task. "Obviously you're hoping he can do the job," Torre said. "In the spring, he just seemed to be very comfortable -- not overwhelmed. Whether he hit very well or because he's been around so long, he handled it very well. New York is unlike any other place when you have to do something like that." The Yankees passed over calling up Andy Phillips, Torre said, because they would not have been able to offer him the regular playing time he may need to be successful. Phillips is hitting .312 with seven homers and 28 RBIs in 52 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Like he never left: It must have seemed a bit odd for Sean Henn to walk back into the visitors' clubhouse at U.S. Cellular Field, the last Major League facility he saw before being optioned back to Triple-A on May 15. While Henn reassumed the same locker he'd occupied during the Yankees' previous trip to Chicago and much seemed the same, Henn assured that he can be a different pitcher. For one thing, he's stretched out a little more -- given three starting assignments at Triple-A due to a dearth of pitching at that level, Henn said he is now capable of throwing more than 70 pitches in a given outing and can offer the Yankees the role of long reliever they appear to desire. "I think I got a lot more innings in than I would have down in the 'pen," Henn said. "So whether I liked it or not, I think it probably helped." Henn started the season on the Yankees' Opening Day roster but had a shaky final two weeks before his demotion, being farmed out after surrendering a pinch-hit grand slam to Texas' Victor Diaz in his final appearance on May 10. Henn's previous role as a lefty reliever was filled by Ron Villone, but Torre said he feels he can find work for Henn. Though the Yankees are going with 13 pitchers for the time being, Henn may not be the one sent down to Triple-A when Roger Clemens is expected to be activated for Saturday's start. "I like him out of the bullpen; I really do," Torre said. "He can come in and strike somebody out. When Roger comes, we'll have to make a decision, but it's not just clear-cut that we're going to not have [Henn]." The Yankees also optioned outfielder Kevin Thompson, who hadn't appeared in a game since being recalled during the Boston series, back to Triple-A. "That's the way it is," Thompson said. "I'll be back. They said they don't know when -- it could be tomorrow, could be next week, next month. They told me just to stay healthy and play my game." Rocket update: Clemens worked out at the Yankees' Legends Field facility in Tampa, Fla., again on Tuesday, conducting a two-hour, 50-minute session in which he ran for 12 minutes, according to The Associated Press. Clemens -- who backed out of a Monday start against the White Sox due to disrupted scar tissue in his right groin -- is expected to have a full-scale bullpen session on Wednesday and is scheduled to pitch for the Yankees on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Pirates. "We're ready when he is, there's no question, if he feels physically able," Torre said. "You've got to remember, he's the one who volunteered the fact that he was feeling something in his groin. If he says he's OK, you've got to believe him. Pavano has surgery: Right-hander Carl Pavano had Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery on Tuesday in New York. Mets team physician David Altchek performed the procedure, which will sideline Pavano for a period of 12-18 months. Pavano's contract with the club runs through the 2008 season. Miguel's the man: Miguel Cairo made his first start of the season at first base and sixth overall on Tuesday, filling in for Josh Phelps. Torre said Phelps' poor numbers against White Sox starter Mark Buehrle (1-for-12) prompted the switch, as well as the fact that Cairo has played sparingly. Cairo said he took ground balls during the Boston series. "It's just catch and throw," Cairo said. You're All-Stars now: Six Tampa Yankees were named to the 2007 Florida State League All-Star Team on Tuesday: catcher Francisco Cervelli, infielder Reegie Corona, right-hander Ian Kennedy, right-hander Daniel McCutchen, infielder Kevin Russo and right-hander Eric Wordekemper. Coming up: The Yankees play the White Sox in the third game of their four-game series, and the ninth game of a 10-game road trip, at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday. Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (4-4, 4.19 ERA) makes the start for New York, with right-hander Javier Vazquez (3-3, 3.95) countering for Chicago. First pitch is set for 8:11 p.m. ET on the YES Network.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.