Hank voices frustration with slow start
Yanks co-chairman 'very disappointed' with club's early play
NEW YORK -- The Yankees have not been satisfied with their slow start to this season, a sentiment voiced on Friday by club co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner.
"I'm very disappointed with the way the season has gone, period," Steinbrenner told The Associated Press at the team's Spring Training complex in Tampa, Fla.
Behind right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, the Yankees defeated the Mariners, 5-1, at Yankee Stadium on Friday, moving one game below .500 at 15-16. The Yankees are fourth in the American League East, trailing the Red Sox and Rays by 2 1/2 games, pending the result of their game in Boston on Friday.
"The injuries have been a killer, too, there's no question about that," Steinbrenner said. "It happens to one team every year, sometimes more than one team. And it just appears to be our year. It's something you've got to deal with in every sport."
The Yankees have nine players on the disabled list, tying the Rangers for the most in the Major Leagues. Their list of the injured players contains some very big names -- defending AL Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez, catcher Jorge Posada, and pitchers Phil Hughes and Brian Bruney are all on the disabled list.
Echoing statements made in New York by general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi, Steinbrenner told the AP that the Yankees will not change their plan for rookie right-hander Joba Chamberlain due to Hughes' injury or a struggling rotation.
The Yankees do envision Chamberlain moving from the bullpen to a starting role, possibly as soon as this season. That would entail an assignment to the Minor Leagues for Chamberlain, who threw a scoreless eighth inning on Friday, so he can build up his stamina and resume starting.
"There's no question, you just can't stick him in there right away," Steinbrenner said. "He's got to be brought along properly. You have to stick with [the plan]."
The Yankees have won all seven of Wang's starts this season, as the right-hander became the first Yankees pitcher since Mike Mussina to win his first six decisions -- Mussina started the 2003 season 7-0. But rookies Hughes and Ian Kennedy wrapped up April winless, and both Andy Pettitte and Mussina are sporting 3-3 records.
"We just can't win one out of five games, every time Wang pitches," Steinbrenner said. "It's not going to work. It's not a good win percentage. Starting pitching is where it's at, especially in the postseason. At this point, we'll see if we even make the postseason."
The Yankees have begun to dip into their Minor League system to fill holes created by injury. Right-hander Darrell Rasner, 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in five starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, is to be called up on Sunday in place of Hughes, who could be out until July with a fractured rib.
"I really don't think there's a choice at this point," Steinbrenner said. "We'll have to see what our guys can do."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.