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Notes: Bullpen shaken up
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07/08/2004  8:44 PM ET
Notes: Bullpen shaken up
Prinz, Halsey optioned to Triple-A Columbus
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Bret Prinz struggled to a 12.60 ERA over four appearances in July. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- With just four games remaining until the All-Star break, the Yankees shook up their bullpen a little on Thursday, optioning right-handers Bret Prinz and Brad Halsey to Triple-A Columbus.

To replace the pair, New York recalled right-hander Sam Marsonek and purchased the contract of right-hander Juan Padilla from Columbus.

"Bret Prinz just hasn't been throwing the ball really well, so we made the switch there, and Halsey just made sense, because he wasn't going to start again in the first half," said manager Joe Torre. "We figured we'd get an arm in the bullpen."

Prinz was 1-0 with a 5.49 ERA in two stints with New York, appearing in 17 games. A few weeks back, Torre was very high on the 27-year-old, who had been impressive in his second go-around with the Yankees.

After not allowing a run in his first four appearances, Prinz allowed four runs in his next three outings. In four games in July, he posted a 12.60 ERA.

"I think he just lost his confidence," Torre said. "We tried to keep him sharp, but when you start overthrowing, you get outside yourself and lose the slot where you were successful. Then you start throwing instead of pitching, and it unravels quickly when you're inexperienced."

Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre spoke with Prinz on Thursday, informing him of the moves after he arrived at Yankee Stadium.

"We talked at great length with him today, told him to go down, get it together again and there would be a spot for him," Torre said. "He just needs to get that good look about him that he seemed to lose in the last couple of weeks."

Halsey went 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in his first four big-league starts, beating the Dodgers in his debut on June 19. He also went toe-to-toe with Pedro Martinez last week, getting a no-decision in the Yankees' 5-4 win on July 1.

Marsonek, 25, was 1-5 with 17 saves and a 3.15 ERA for Columbus in 35 games, earning a trip to the Triple-A All-Star Game. He was in camp with the Yankees this spring, going 0-0 with a save and a 0.00 ERA in four games.

Padilla, 27, was 1-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 31 games for Columbus this season, allowing just two runs over his last 15 games. Padilla was acquired by the Yankees from the Minnesota Twins last September to complete the trade for Jesse Orosco.

"Both of them have been pitching well, and when we made the call, these were the ones they recommended," Torre said. "Marsonek was in Spring Training with us, but we haven't seen Padilla. At least we're not short-handed now."

One step forward: Kevin Brown had a bullpen session before Thursday's game, throwing about 50 pitches. It was the first such session since the right-hander was diagnosed with an intestinal parasite last week.

"Brown was good. He didn't exert himself a great deal," said Torre. "He was satisfied with it, which is a hell of a thing for me. Mel said it came out of his hand real easy and he didn't try to force it. He felt good."

Brown will throw another session over the weekend, and a rehab start is likely next week. Brown could throw on Saturday, then again on Tuesday before making a rehab start on Wednesday. That would line him up to start for the Yankees a week from Monday, which is the next time they will need a fifth starter.

"Because he's been away so long, he'd probably need [a rehab start]," Torre said. "Let's get through the two bullpen sessions and we'll talk about it. That's the first plateau we need to get over right now."

Power stroke: Hideki Matsui's home run on Wednesday gave him 16 for the season, matching his total from the 2003 season.

"You knew that the year of experience would help the power part of it," Torre said. "He's become more familiar with the pitching."

Matsui, who was elected by the fans through the Ameriquest 2004 All-Star Final Vote Program to be the 32nd player on the American League All-Star team, said that he has not tried to increase his home run total, but he is happy that his power numbers have gone up.

"When you look at the team, everybody else on the team has the ability to hit home runs," Matsui said through an interpreter. "I don't necessarily think that is the No. 1 need for me. If I could hit more home runs it would be nice, but that's not only what I focus on."

Matsui has now been an All-Star in both of his big-league seasons, something that pleases Torre.

"The culture is so proud, and when you make an All-Star team, it's a source of pride," the manager said. "I know he has to feel that way."

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

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