The New York Yankees’ injury-plagued rotation is about to get a boost.
Kevin Brown, out since June 9 because of a lower back spasm and an intestinal parasite, is set to make his return to the rotation when the Yankees play the middle game of their series with the Baltimore Orioles.
The 39-year-old right-hander, who came over in an offseason trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers, got through a pair of rehabilitation starts and Wednesday’s bullpen session in Toronto without any setbacks.
“He’s gone through a tough time here,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Brown, who will be limited to around 85 pitches. “His mood was elevated. He seems to be ready to do this.”
Brown, who has won seven of eight decisions this season, is one of three key Yankees starters who have battled injury this season. Right-hander Mike Mussina has been out since July 6 with right elbow discomfort and Orlando Hernandez was forced to leave his start Tuesday due to tightness in his left hamstring. Like Brown, Hernandez is scheduled to see action in this series.
Brown has felt weak for months because of the parasite, but says he feels no pain in his back.
“I’m definitely better than I have been. I feel better than I did when I pitched the other day,” Brown said. “Command is part of strength. If you don’t have strength, it’s hard to have command. My body shut down for so long, it took a while to come back.”
Though the Yankees are still in the market for another starting pitcher by Saturday’s trade deadline, they have a formidable starting five when everyone is healthy. Brown knows Friday’s start will go a long way toward determining his future.
“The key is to be good enough to give the team a chance to win,” Brown said. “I’m encouraged with the way I felt.”
The Yankees have dropped two in a row, including a 9-1 loss in the series opener on Thursday.
Miguel Tejada, who leads the majors with 94 RBIs, had two hits and drove in two runs for Baltimore. The 28-year-old shortstop is batting .283 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs in 61 career games against the Yankees.
The Orioles have won two straight and three of five.