Loaiza has the same thing in mind.
“I’m happy to be here, happy to be a Yankee,” Loaiza said. “I can’t wait until Wednesday to start a game and get my first victory here.”
Loaiza will get that chance when the defending AL champions resume a three-game series with the red-hot Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium.
Contreras, who showed flashes of brilliance mixed with disastrous results after being signed to a four-year, $32 million contract prior to the 2003 season, was dealt to the Chicago White Sox for Loaiza just prior to Saturday’s trade deadline. While the White Sox hope they can get the Cuban right-hander to live up to his potential, the Yankees will try to get Loaiza to display the form that made him a 21-game winner for Chicago last season.
“He gives us more experience,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Loaiza, who jumped right into Contreras’ spot in the rotation. “We were always high on Contreras’ stuff, but when you play here, it’s right now. Jose was a work-in-progress, basically.”
Loaiza, who played for Torre at this year’s All-Star game, had to adjust quickly to life as a Yankee, shaving off the goatee he’d worn for almost a decade.
“It’s been 9 1/2 years, so it’s a little bit white,” said Loaiza. “I’m happy to be here, so I’ll do what it takes to be in the pinstripes. I cut myself a little, because I’m not used to shaving over my lip.”
The Yankees also added veteran first baseman John Olerud to their roster on Tuesday. Olerud, released by the Seattle Mariners last month, is expected to make his first start Wednesday. He will take Tony Clark’s spot in the regular lineup. Clark was filling in for slugger Jason Giambi, who is undergoing treatment for a benign tumor.
Oakland fell behind early in Tuesday’s series opener, but rallied for an easy 13-4 win as Mark Mulder posted his major league-leading 15th victory.
Scott Hatteberg homered twice and drove in five runs as the AL West-leading A’s won for the ninth time in 10 games.