As one member of the New York Yankees’ injury-plagued rotation returns, general manager Brian Cashman is taking steps to ensure the list of ailing players doesn’t grow.
Mussina (0-1, 9.00 ERA), who is pitching the nightcap, will take the mound for the first time since April 11, when he strained his left hamstring against the Minnesota Twins. The 38-year-old right-hander pronounced himself ready after throwing 60 pitches in a simulated game Friday at Yankee Stadium.
Mussina, who is 15-12 with a 3.83 ERA in 33 lifetime starts against Texas, was one of a seemingly endless list of Yankees starting pitchers to get hurt in the early part of this season. Carl Pavano, Chien-Ming Wang, Jeff Karstens and highly touted rookie Phil Hughes all have been severely injured in the first five weeks, and Hughes’ hamstring injury - suffered while he was pitching a no-hitter in Tuesday’s 8-1 victory - prompted Cashman to fire strength and conditioning coach Marty Miller on Wednesday.
“I get the strong sense there’s a belief that’s now growing that it’s coming from this aspect,” Cashman said. “Once that happens, it’s hard to change that.”
While Yankees manager Joe Torre did not directly blame Miller for the injuries, he did feel too many injuries could cause doubts in the clubhouse.
“Somebody’s new on board and all of a sudden you get this rash of injuries,” Torre said. “I don’t think you can directly connect them. I don’t think any of us knows that. But you connect the dots - somebody new and all of the sudden this is happening, it’s tough to have the confidence you need to have if you’re a player.”
Texas (10-16) will turn to Robinson Tejeda, Wednesday’s scheduled starter, in the second game. Tejeda (3-1, 3.82) will try to extend his personal winning streak to three games.
The right-hander allowed three runs and five hits, including two homers, in 5 1-3 innings against Toronto on Friday in a 5-3 victory. Tejeda, though, lost his only start to the Yankees (10-14), getting tagged for six runs and seven hits in three innings of an 8-5 defeat on May 7.
Kevin Millwood (2-3, 5.88) is scheduled to pitch the first game for Texas despite suffering a slight hamstring injury Wednesday. The right-hander is 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in his last three starts, giving up 15 runs and 23 hits in 16 2-3 innings.
On Saturday, he was fortunate to leave without a decision after being reached for five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings before the Rangers rallied for a 9-8, 10-inning victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Millwood is 1-4 with a 4.82 ERA in six lifetime starts against the Yankees.
Andy Pettitte (1-1, 3.00) will oppose Millwood. The left-hander struggled against the Boston Red Sox on Friday, taking the loss after allowing five runs and six hits with five walks in 4 2-3 innings of an 11-4 defeat.
“It’s as frustrating as you can get. It’s embarrassing is what it is,” said Pettitte, who forced in the tying run with a walk and then threw a wild pitch to score the go-ahead run. “It’s a joke that I can’t go out there and get through six or seven innings right there when the team needs me to do that as bad as they do.”
He is 8-7 with a 5.75 ERA in 17 lifetime starts against the Rangers, but has lost four straight decisions since last defeating them on Aug. 24, 2000.