With ace Kevin Brown now on the disabled list, Sturtze will go from long relief duty to the starting rotation when he takes the mound in the middle game of the Yankees’ interleague series with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Brown was put on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday because of a strained lower back, thrusting Sturtze, a 33-year-old right-hander who has pitched for six clubs since 1995, into a Yankees rotation which suddenly has a different look.
“I’m going to be excited to get a start,” Sturtze said. “I was starting in (Triple-A) Las Vegas, so I’m used to it. It’s the same preparation, I just get to come to the ballpark a little later.”
Brown left his start last Wednesday against Colorado after two innings. The right-hander had an MRI exam, CT scan and X-rays last Thursday, a day after injuring himself. He was initially listed as day-to-day by the Yankees, but on Tuesday was put on the DL retroactive to June 10.
The Yankees have the best record in the majors, but the health and depth of their rotation has been their top concern. Mike Mussina left his start Friday night against San Diego after three innings when he felt tightness in his right groin.
Sturtze, who is 30-39 with a 5.18 ERA in his career, has had his moments with the Yankees since coming over in a trade with Los Angeles on May 15. Since allowing four runs and three hits in two innings of relief against Texas on May 21 in his pinstripe debut, Sturtze has allowed just two earned runs and 10 hits over his last 11 innings, spanning four appearances.
The Yankees have won three straight and 17 of 20, including Tuesday’s 4-2 victory in the series opener.
Despite the loss, the Diamondbacks are 8-5 this month.
Arizona’s Danny Bautista was struck in the back of the helmet by a pitch from Jose Contreras in the first inning Tuesday. He stayed in for two innings despite a headache, but was replaced by pinch-hitter Doug DeVore in the third inning as a precaution. He is day-to-day.