Blue Jays 9, Yankees 1

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DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP)—Jeff Karstens has put himself into consideration for Kei Igawa’s spot in the New York Yankees’ rotation.

“I’m just taking it in stride,” Karstens said Monday after New York’s 9-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Karstens allowed his first runs of the year, giving up four over 4 1-3 innings. He had pitched 10 consecutive scoreless innings before Aaron Hill’s two-run double with two outs in the second. Two more runs scored when reliever Chris Britton gave up a two-run single to Lyle Overbay in the fifth.

Karstens’ emergence could alter plans for Igawa, who signed a $20 million, five-year contract after the Yankees bid $26 million for his rights.

“We want Igawa to be one of the starters,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “The only way that wouldn’t happen is if we think, he could improve here.”

Torre didn’t rule out the possibility that Igawa could begin the season in the minors. The left-hander, who has struggled with his control, is to pitch Tuesday night against Philadelphia.

“I think we have a lot of options that we have to consider,” Torre said. “But the first consideration for us is do what’s best for the player, especially someone you feel is going to be a big part of what you do.”

Torre said Igawa had a good bullpen session Monday.

“We’re anxious to see how it translates tomorrow,” Torre said. “He’s gotten better in areas through the three starts. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll see a little better demeanor as far as his command and stuff.”

In 13 1-3 innings, Karstens has given up 11 hits, struck out 11 and walked none. He was 2-1 with a 3.80 ERA in six starts and two relief appearances for the Yankees last year.

“I came into camp thinking, probably hang around for a little while and then once games start at the minor league complex I’ll be back pitching over there,” Karstens said. “I was thinking more, come get my work in and try and learn as much as I can while I’m there.”

Gregg Zaun hit a three-run homer off Britton, who allowed five runs and four hits in one-third of an inning.

Blue Jays starter Tomo Ohka allowed one run and three hits in five innings.

“He pitched very, very good today,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “We know he can pitch.”

Toronto closer B.J. Ryan was unavailable because of a sore back.

“The best thing for this guy is to let it rest and heal,” Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said. “Hopefully we’ll get a kid at 100 percent in the next few days.”

Victor Zambrano followed Ohka and gave up three hits over four shutout innings.

Yankees right fielder Bobby Abreu, out since late last month with strained right oblique, is set to be the designated hitter Tuesday.

“I’ll be ready for opening day,” Abreu said.

Torre didn’t rule out having him remain in Florida when the team breaks camp.

“In his case, you have to make sure that he’s ready to go when we’re ready to go,” Torre said. “If he isn’t, we can’t take a chance. We have to make sure. If we have to leave him back here, we’ll do that. But it’s a little premature to say that.”


Karstens threw 50 of 75 pitches for strike. … Yankees 1B Doug Mientkiewicz doubled in the ninth for his second hit in 26 at-bats. “I made an effort to be more aggressive,” Mientkiewicz said. … Toronto RHP John Thomson allowed six runs and four hits in five innings of a Triple-A game. … New York C Wil Nieves (right biceps soreness) returned and went 0-for-1.

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