Yankees-Rangers game postponed by rain

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ARLINGTON, Texas (AP)—Yankees general manager Brian Cashman can’t say with certainty that poor conditioning caused the team’s rash of hamstring injuries this season.

He wasn’t about to wait for more evidence, though.

Cashman fired strength and conditioning coach Marty Miller on Wednesday, one day after rookie pitcher Phil Hughes became the latest New York player to hurt his hamstring.

“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.”

Heavy rains that briefly flooded the outfield postponed New York’s scheduled game against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader Thursday beginning at 3:35 p.m. EDT.

Andy Pettitte will pitch the first game for the Yankees and Mike Mussina the second. Kevin Millwood will start against Pettitte despite tweaking his hamstring Wednesday, Rangers manager Ron Washington said.

Robinson Tejeda, Wednesday night’s scheduled starter for Texas, will pitch against Mussina.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said the club would likely add pitchers to the roster Thursday to fill out the rotation for Sunday and Monday. He didn’t indicate who they might be.

But the biggest move for now in the Yankees’ clubhouse is cutting ties with Miller, who had only been with the club a few months. He was replaced by his assistant, Dana Cavalea, on an interim basis.

An injury-ravaged pitching staff has contributed to a poor start for New York (10-14), which is in last place in the AL East.

“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.”

The final straw for Cashman came Tuesday night, when Hughes carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his second major league start before leaving with a hamstring injury. When Hughes is put on the disabled list, he’ll become the fourth Yankees player to land on the DL this season with a hamstring problem.

Cashman said that after Hughes’ injury—a particularly disruptive loss given the Yankees’ depleted rotation—there was no more denying that a trend of hamstring troubles had emerged.

“Injuries are a part of the game, but not the hamstring stuff that’s been happening here,” he said.

Hughes, a 20-year-old right-hander considered one of baseball’s top prospects, is expected to undergo an MRI after the Yankees return to New York on Friday. His next start would have been Sunday against Seattle; Cashman said the Yankees will look internally for a replacement.

Hughes was called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill a spot in the team’s injury-ravaged rotation. Mussina (hamstring), Carl Pavano (forearm) and Jeff Karstens (broken right leg) are on the disabled list, though Mussina will be activated in time to start Thursday.

Chien-Ming Wang also missed the first three weeks of the season with a hamstring injury. He is expected to start Saturday after breaking a nail on his pitching hand in his most recent start.

A sore hamstring also landed outfielder Hideki Matsui on the disabled list for 12 games. Matsui said each player is ultimately responsible for his conditioning.

“Staff people, the strength and conditioning coach are there as a support mechanism,” Matsui said through a translator. “But it’s really pretty close to 100 percent the player’s responsibility as far as preparation.”

Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, bothered by a bad back and sore legs much of the season, said Miller introduced conditioning tools that some players weren’t accustomed to using—but also agreed to bring in equipment that players requested.

Still, Damon thought it was unusual that so many pitchers succumbed to hamstring problems, an injury more common for position players.

“I think when you get a number of pitchers go down with the same problem, it opens up eyes and it makes you start thinking there might need to be a change,” Damon said.

The Yankees’ slow start roused owner George Steinbrenner to issue a statement Monday rebuking the $195 million team for its record but also supporting Cashman and Torre.

Notes

Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez was named the AL player of the month for April after hitting .355 with 14 home runs and 34 RBIs. … Pavano (forearm) said he will likely visit specialist Dr. James Andrews for an exam. Pavano’s bullpen session was cut short Wednesday because of discomfort. “It’s not where it needs to be,” Pavano said. … Rangers RHP Eric Gagne has another bullpen session set for Thursday as he continues his rehab from a pulled muscle in the hip area. Gagne is eligible to come off the 15-day DL next Tuesday.

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