05/06/08 7:15 PM ET
Yankees tab Igawa for Friday's start
Lefty to be recalled while Kennedy regains form in Triple-A
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
The 28-year-old Igawa will take the ball in place of right-hander Ian Kennedy, who was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday, when the Yankees added right-hander Darrell Rasner to their big league roster.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he hopes to see Igawa throw strikes down in the zone against the Tigers, a team he has never faced. Igawa is 3-3 with a 3.86 ERA in seven starts for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season, having allowed 33 hits in 39 2/3 innings, while walking 12 and striking out 40.
"When I saw him in Spring Training, especially the end of Spring Training, I saw his stuff down a lot more," Girardi said. "I thought he threw a lot more quality strikes with his fastball. He has the ability to strike people out, but in that sometimes he gets in long counts and throws a lot of pitches per inning, and that hurts you."
Last season, Igawa offered the Yankees underwhelming returns on their $46 million investment, which included a $26 million posting fee paid to the lefty's Japanese club, the Hanshin Tigers, and a five-year Major League contract.
After making the Opening Day roster, Igawa was just 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA in 14 games (12 starts) for New York, serving three stints with the Yankees and being sent all the way down to Class A Tampa in May, with hopes of fixing his mechanics.
Girardi said that he hoped Igawa's troubles last year were more due to the transition process from baseball in Japan, where Igawa led the Central League in strikeouts in 2002, '04 and '06, compiling a career record of 86-60 with a 3.15 ERA in 190 games (179 starts), including a 20-win season in 2003, when he was named the league's Most Valuable Player.
"I think it's just adjustments to baseball here," Girardi said. "They have to adjust to so many different things. First, you have the language barrier, and then you have the time schedule. There, they start every six or seven days, and here we start every five. It's a huge adjustment."
Yankees catcher Chad Moeller caught Igawa at Triple-A and said that Igawa's mission to handle the Tigers is simple.
"He needs to throw strikes," Moeller said. "He was keeping the ball down and pounding the strike zone. If he looks like that, he'll be in good shape."
Kennedy made his first Triple-A start of the season for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre against Charlotte on Tuesday, after going 0-2 with an 8.37 ERA through his first six appearances (five starts) of the season with the Yankees.
Girardi said that he expected Kennedy to make at least two starts in the International League before being considered for a recall, and that he planned to call Scranton/Wilkes-Barre manager Dave Miley after checking Kennedy's line on www.MiLB.com.
"I'm anxious to see how he does," Girardi said.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.