© 2007 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/21/07 9:06 PM ET

Yanks head to the Bay to face Giants

New York (35-35) at San Francisco (30-41), 10:15 p.m. ET

The last time the Yankees sent Kei Igawa to a Major League mound, it was early May and the touted Japanese import was faltering badly.

Changes were necessary, it was determined, and so Igawa was dispatched to the Minor Leagues -- not on a two-hour journey to the club's Triple-A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pa., but all the way back down to Legends Field in Tampa, Fla., for what has been termed a deconstruction.

Getting around the language barrier by first watching videos of southpaws like Chicago's Mark Buehrle and the Mets' Tom Glavine, Igawa then was told to attempt to repeat certain aspects of their motions and balance on the mound.

"He was trying to just get people out with his fastball," said pitching coach Ron Guidry. "He couldn't get the other one over. If you don't have that, you take the other one out of the equation and they just look for [the fastball]. You've got to almost be perfect with it, and he couldn't do that."

Flash forward to Friday, and after a series of six Minor League appearances -- two for Tampa, four for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- Igawa is finally back.

The early reviews claim that Igawa, his motion tinkered with by pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras, has finally harnessed command of the changeup that Guidry believes can help him be a successful pitcher at the big league level.

"If he can get [the changeup] over, that alleviates them having to shut one out," Guidry said. "They have to look for more pitches. They have to be aware of more pitches, and just putting that in hitters' minds gets them to think more than just looking for one thing. You've got an advantage, and that's what pitching is all about."

Yankees manager Joe Torre said that he has trust in the organization's read on Igawa, who was waiting for the club in San Francisco when the team's charter landed from Colorado early Thursday evening.

"They would not have recommended him unless they felt he was capable of not being short-suited with any of his stuff," Torre said.

Igawa signed a five-year, $20 million contract in January after the Yankees ponied up a $26 million posting fee to garner his rights from the Hanshin Tigers of Japan's Central League.

He has had successful big league outings -- most notably six innings of shutout, two-hit ball over the Red Sox on April 28 -- and Torre said he is hopeful to see another on Friday at AT&T Park, as the Yankees open their final Interleague series of the season and look to snap a three-game losing streak.

Comfort, tempo and rhythm will be the checkpoints to look for, Torre said, particularly in the first few innings.

"That's a tough thing, when you go out and try to change things," Torre said. "You have a tendency to think about the mechanics and not think about getting this guy at the plate out. Hopefully we'll see pitching where he's not thinking about what he's doing."

Pitching matchup
NYY: LHP Kei Igawa (2-1, 7.63 ERA)
In his final three starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in June, Igawa was 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA, allowing 15 hits and four earned runs with 21 strikeouts over 20 innings. He is the 39th Japanese-born player in Major League history and the 26th pitcher, but just the eighth to debut as a starter.

SF: RHP Matt Cain (2-7, 3.15 ERA)
The luckless Cain has watched his teammates get shut out in his last two starts. Naturally, he lost both of them, despite allowing only one run in each. The Giants have scored two runs or fewer in nine of Cain's 14 starts, explaining his lopsided record. The 22-year-old remains capable of imparting late movement upon his fastball, although his control has occasionally been a problem (44 walks in 91 1/3 innings).

Player to watch
No Giants have ever faced Igawa, but Randy Winn is batting .346 (27-for-78) with three homers and seven RBIs against left-handed pitching thus far in 2007.

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Up next
• Saturday: Yankees (Chien-Ming Wang, 7-4, 3.33) at Giants (Matt Morris, 7-4, 3.21), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 3-4, 5.10) at Giants (Noah Lowry, 6-6, 3.74), 4:05 p.m. ET
• Monday: Off-day

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.