Even though Kevin Brown hasn’t pitched in a month, he is about to make his most important start of the season.
Out since the middle of June with a back injury, Brown is expected to throw no more than 80 pitches when he takes the mound for the surging New York Yankees in the opener of their three-game series with the Texas Rangers.
The 40-year-old right-hander, who is 14-12 with a 4.55 ERA over the last two seasons with the Yankees, threw 69 pitches off a mound on Friday as part of his rehabilitation.
After reporting no problems Saturday, Brown departed the Yankees’ spring training complex with his equipment bag, optimistic that he was done rehabbing and ready to rejoin the Yankees rotation.
“I hope so,” he said. “So far, it’s good.”
Due to the injuries that have decimated New York’s starting staff, Brown is coming back to the majors a bit earlier than manager Joe Torre would have liked.
“Ideally we’d probably want him to pitch a rehab start, but where we are with our pitching staff we’ll take what he gives us,” Torre said. “He can go to about an 80-pitch limit.”
Brown, who has chronic back trouble, went on the disabled list for the 13th time in his career June 18.
Brown started the season on the DL because of a back strain, was activated April 17 and went 4-6 with a 5.48 ERA.
Pavano could return in the next 10-to-14 days. Wright might be ready to pitch in the majors sometime next month.
Chien-Ming Wang went on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with inflammation in his right shoulder. He is scheduled to be examined by Dr. James Andrews in Alabama on Monday.
Despite all the pitching woes, the Yankees have won 10 of 12.
Al Leiter, acquired Saturday from Florida, stepped in Sunday and surprised many by allowing just one run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings in a 5-3 win over Boston.
The Rangers are coming off losing three of four in Oakland, including a 5-4, 14-inning defeat on Sunday.
Alfonso Soriano, Richard Hidalgo and Hank Blalock hit solo homers, adding three more to the Rangers’ major league-leading total of 154 home runs. But the Rangers were held scoreless after the eighth in a game lasting 4 hours, 10 minutes on getaway day.