08/24/07 8:00 PM ET
Notes: Villone to DL; Bruney up
Back strain sidelines lefty; righty given second chance
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The call couldn't come soon enough for Bruney, who had a 3.40 ERA in 50 appearances for New York before being optioned on Aug. 7. He didn't take the demotion well as he left Rogers Centre in Toronto, but had a more level outlook upon his return.
"I work here," Bruney said. "I'm an employee. I do what I'm told. I'm still going to do my job wherever I'm at. Obviously, I was upset, but who wouldn't be?"
Bruney, 25, was brought up from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre when left-hander Ron Villone hit the 15-day disabled list with a mild lower back strain.
The Yankees are optimistic that Bruney may be able to give them more length as a result of his four-appearance Minor League stint. Bruney went two innings in his final relief appearance for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday.
His previous high this season was 1 2/3 innings on May 27, though the club had tried to coax him through two innings on other occasions only to lift him.
"Hopefully, it's more of a weapon," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
Part of the Yankees' rationale for sending down Bruney revolved around his control, which proved erratic at times. In 23 appearances from June 3 on, Bruney walked 17 in 16 2/3 innings, striking out just eight.
The Yankees briefly instructed Bruney to try throwing from the windup to help his control, a tweak that he said he feels comfortable with, though he bristled at the idea that he was having difficulty throwing strikes.
"I'm a reliever," Bruney said. "I can't come in and set it on a tee for a guy. If that's what you want, I can give up hits all day, but sometimes I've got to try to get a strikeout.
"You throw pitches that you think they're going to swing at, that not necessarily are strikes. You try to make them look like them. The walks are high, but it's not like I don't know how to throw strikes."
Best to rest: Covering first base on a Casey Kotchman grounder on Tuesday at Anaheim, Villone said he felt his back tweak, which he didn't think would be a major injury at the time.
But when Villone couldn't sit still on Wednesday in the bullpen and was uncomfortable flying to Detroit, the 37-year-old left-hander mentioned the issue to Torre.
"I'm hoping that it wouldn't take the 15 days, but looking at it realistically, it's not going to hurt," Villone said. "It's been about five years since I've had 15 days off."
Moose tracks: Mike Mussina threw his first bullpen session on Friday since an "awful" 1 2/3-inning start against the Angels on Tuesday. Given a few days to consider his performance, Mussina said he didn't have many new answers, only a deeper evaluation of what went wrong in an 18-9 loss at Angel Stadium.
"I couldn't throw strikes, and that just created the entire mess," Mussina said.
The performance, Mussina's second disappointing effort immediately following a four-start winning streak, raises the question of how long the Yankees could stay with Mussina if he continues to scuffle.
The right-hander appears to be compensating for a decrease in velocity and has allowed 14 runs (13 earned) over his last two starts, a 17.55 ERA.
"We're less than six weeks from the end of the season," Mussina said. "These games are important to us. I have to be able to go out there and do my job the way I've always done it."
Torre said that he spoke with Mussina to check if an extra day here and there would help the hurler regain his form. As the rotation stands, Mussina is scheduled to pitch on Monday at Detroit with an extra day of rest. Torre made sure to qualify that the start would not be a last-chance audition, but a poor performance might prompt the consideration of new ideas.
"If it doesn't get better, then we have to see if there is something we can do," Torre said. "I'm certainly not preparing for it, let's put it that way."
Blast from the past: The Potomac Nationals announced on Friday that Jorge Posada has been elected into the Hall of Fame at Pfitzner Stadium.
Posada, a member of the 1993 Prince William Cannons, will officially be inducted on Aug. 25, becoming the seventh member of the Hall of Fame. He spent most of that season with the Yankees' Carolina League club, batting .259 with 17 homers and 61 RBIs.
Yankees condemn merchandise: The Yankees released a statement on Friday condemning the sale of caps with gang-related logos and colors featuring the club's logo, saying that the caps -- the subject of protests in Harlem this week -- were made under a licensing agreement between New Era and Major League Baseball and were not subject to the Yankees' approval nor shown to the team at any point prior to their retail distribution.
"The New York Yankees oppose any garment that may be associated with gangs or gang-related activity," the team's statement read. "Upon learning of the existence of these caps on Friday morning, the New York Yankees contacted Major League Baseball. We were notified by the Commissioner's Office that steps had already been taken to recall the caps from all points of sale. The league ensured that no such product will be manufactured in the future."
Coming up: The Yankees and Tigers will play the second game of their four-game series on Saturday evening, with New York sending right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (14-6, 4.10) to the mound opposite Detroit right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (10-6, 4.65). First pitch from Comerica Park is scheduled for 7:05 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.