Igawa makes his major league debut Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles as the Yankees try to avoid their third straight loss.
Although Igawa doesn’t possess the same overpowering pitches as Boston’s highly touted Daisuke Matsuzaka, he was a three-time Central League strikeout champion in Japan and earned consecutive All-Star berths from 2001-03.
The Yankees (1-2) paid just over $26 million for the right to negotiate with the 27-year-old left-hander and signed him to a $20 million, five-year contract on Dec. 26. Igawa was 14-9 with a 2.97 ERA and 194 strikeouts last year with the Hanshin Tigers.
Igawa struggled with his control at times in spring training, but said he saw improvement in his changeup during his bullpen session Thursday.
“He seems to be pretty calm,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said Friday. “My guess is he’s a little anxious to get it going tomorrow.”
The Orioles (1-3) roughed up Mussina for six runs in four innings Friday and received a strong performance from starter Adam Loewen to win their first game of the season 6-4.
“It was just bad. I could say it was the cold, I could say it was the time off - it was bad. It was a struggle from the very first pitch,” Mussina said. “I really didn’t give us a chance. We count on our rotation a lot, and it’s going to make or break our season.”
The victory prevented Baltimore from opening 0-4 for the first time since the 1988 team lost its first 21 games - a major league record to start a season.
“It was really no time to panic. But I just felt like we needed to win a ballgame,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said
Derek Jeter fouled a ball off his right foot in the first inning and came out in the ninth with a bruised toe. X-rays were negative and he said he would play Saturday.
Steve Trachsel makes his Orioles debut and his first American League start since he split the 2000 season between Tampa Bay and Toronto.
Trachsel was out of a job until Kris Benson’s torn rotator cuff forced the Orioles to dip into the free-agent market and sign the 15-year veteran to a $3.1 million, one-year contract with a team option for 2008. The right-hander went 15-8 with a 4.28 ERA for the New York Mets last season, but was ineffective in each of his two playoff starts, including a terrible outing against St. Louis in the NL championship series in which he yielded five runs and five hits in one inning.
Trachsel is 4-4 with a 3.58 ERA in nine career starts against the Yankees, including 2-2 with a 5.01 ERA in four starts at Yankee Stadium.
New York’s center fielder Johnny Damon, who has missed the last two games with a mild strain in his right calf, took batting practice Friday and may be available for this game.