07/12/2003 4:08 PM ET
Notes: Yanks in search of relief
Torre feels bullpen needs another reliable arm
TORONTO -- During these dog days of summer, Yankees manager Joe Torre is trying to find relief for his bullpen. In the interim, New York is trying to maintain its two game lead over the Red Sox and make do with what it has.
By Stephanie J. Geosits / MLB.com
With Antonio Osuna reinstated on Saturday from the disabled list after missing 23 games with a strained right groin, the Bombers hope their situation will improve. David Wells went on bereavement leave following the death of his maternal grandfather and a spot opened up for Osuna on the roster.
"[Osuna] gives you another experienced guy who has closed games," Torre said. "[Chris] Hammond -- we've been relying a great deal on Hammy since Tony [Osuna] left, and we got through it pretty good. The other night he gave us two innings. Last night we wanted to stay away from him. We had him up and then we decided just to go Mo [Mariano Rivera] in the eighth ...Since Rivera was rested, we decided to give Hammy his day off so he could give us an inning each of these next two days.
Rivera made a rare appearance in the eighth after Dan Miceli took a liner off his right calf, only to have Rivera tweak his ankle on a comebacker to the mound. Rivera closed out the ninth for his 16th save of the year and both he and Miceli are fine.
The Yankees have been trying to obtain reliable pitchers to get them from the starters to their closer. In particular, Torre is looking for a dominant left-hander.
"We really don't have that and again, not too many teams do. Intimidating left-handers aren't something you can just pick off a tree," the Yankees skipper said. "That's more a luxury than a necessity, more so than anything else."
Overpowering southpaws have become a hot commodity in today's baseball market.
"They're tough to find," Torre said. "If that person was available it would be surprising because there aren't many of them around. There are a lot of left-handers on a lot of staffs but few of them can come out of there and be a knockout against left-handers. [Chris Hammond] Hammy can get lefthanders out. He gets right-handers out but he's not the intimidating strikeout guy. I'm certainly not criticizing what he does. He's not necessarily a one-batter guy where that left-hander maybe coming out would be. [Paul] Assenmacher used to do it, to come out of there to pitch to Paul O'Neill. That's the one I'm talking about -- to pitch against that left-hander they're not going to pinch-hit for."
Torre would be satisfied with a seasoned, consistent arm.
"The only thing you look for in our bullpen is just to add more experience because of who we are [and the associated] pressure," he said. "To me, I like more experienced people because of what you have to deal with here. Not to say a [Jason] Anderson isn't going to be that guy, but he's young and inexperienced and Hitchy [Sterling Hitchcock] is more our long guy and so is [Al] Reyes -- he's more a right-handed long guy or a guy to get out of an inning, but it wouldn't hurt to get another arm down there. I know Brian [Cashman, Yankees general manager], and we talk about it daily, and he's talking to a lot of teams."
The Yankees manager couldn't project the timetable for making a deal for relief help. In the interim, that leaves his catchers to help direct a young staff coming out of the bullpen.
"They put a little bit more pressure on themselves," Jorge Posada said. "They're better than what they've shown and I just lead by example. [I tell them] to keep going, and have fun and throw the ball where it's supposed to be thrown.
Mondesi mending: Raul Mondesi injured his left wrist in the ninth inning Friday. After a visit to the doctor, he was diagnosed with tendinitis. He would be available to pinch-run Saturday but was not in the lineup.
Robin reeling: Robin Ventura's troubles at the plate continued Friday with an 0-for-3 performance batting seventh in the DH role. Torre gave him a day off in the field to see if he could snap what extended into an 0-for-20 slump. He started Enrique Wilson at third base on the SkyDome Astroturf infield.
"Yesterday I used Wilson because we had the left-handed pitcher and Andy [Pettitte], normally he's a sinkerball guy, but he wasn't last night," Torre said. At third base I though we'd get more action, and on the turf I thought Wilson would have a little more range. I think for Robin, when you're a regular player it's tough getting used to that DH role. He's back where he's more familiar with today."
Ventura's average is down to .236 after recently going 1-for-24 and 3-for-37.. That's a significant drop for a career .269 hitter.
"He's fighting it," Torre said. "He's trying to work it out in his mind. I don't care how much you've played, and how long you've played, and how well you've played. When you struggle, your ego takes a shot and you're still trying to fix it."
Stephanie J. Geosits is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.