The Cuban right-hander hopes to overcome three poor outings to start the season when the Yankees resume a three-game series with the Oakland Athletics.
Contreras, signed to a four-year, $32 million deal prior to last season, served a valuable role with New York in 2003 despite an extended stay on the disabled list. He went 7-2 with a 3.30 ERA in 18 appearances, including nine starts. He showed flashes of why he was considered the best pitcher in Cuba for many years.
However, Contreras has not responded well to being handed the fourth spot in the Yankees’ rotation out of spring training. In his first three outings, he has been hit hard for 13 runs and 17 hits over just 11 innings.
Of even more concern for the Yankees has been Contreras’ inability to pitch effectively against archrival Boston. On Friday, Contreras had his second straight dismal outing against the Red Sox, yielding five runs and five hits over 3 1-3 innings in an 11-2 loss.
“I’m very upset with myself. I’m very bothered because I haven’t been able to prove the kind of pitcher I am,” Contreras said.
The Yankees’ previously lifeless bats finally came alive in Tuesday’s series opener. Ruben Sierra’s pinch-hit two-run double highlighted a six-run, eighth-inning outburst as New York rallied for a much-needed 10-8 win, ending a four-game losing streak.
Despite the rousing win, Derek Jeter’s struggles at the plate continued. He went 0-for-3 to remain hitless in a career-high 28 at-bats.