Notes: Sturtze finds his place in bullpen

Notes: Sturtze finds his place in bullpen

BOSTON -- Last season, Joe Torre had a trusted bullpen formula of Paul Quantrill, Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera, a three-headed monster that helped the Yankees to 76 wins in the 85 games in which they led after six innings.

Gordon and Rivera remain the manager's choice for the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, but Tanyon Sturtze has become Torre's new go-to guy in the sixth or seventh, a new role for the 34-year-old journeyman.

"I think he's found his niche coming out of the bullpen," Torre said. "He has so much more confidence now than he did when he came here last year."

When Sturtze was traded to New York last May, he was considered an insurance policy more than anything else. He could start, work in long relief, or pretty much do whatever else the team needed him to do.

"He's found his comfort zone out there, become very aggressive and confident without being overconfident," Torre said. "He's at a point now where if he doesn't do well, it surprises me."

Sturtze tossed a pair of scoreless innings in Wednesday's win over the Red Sox, his third two-inning stint against Boston this year. He has not allowed a run in any of those games, as his only poor outing of the young season came against Baltimore, when he was forced into duty in the third inning after Carl Pavano was hit in the head by a line drive.

"It's a little different being able to come into games that we're winning instead of games that we're getting beat," Sturtze said. "The more often you throw, the better."

The biggest difference for Sturtze is that in a short-relief role, he can stick to his two best pitches -- his fastball and splitter -- knowing that he won't be facing any hitters twice. In long-relief situations, he mixes in other pitches to keep hitters guessing, though that makes him more prone to making mistakes.

"[Wednesday] night, I could come out and attack, keep them defensive," he said. "The other way, I have to mix my pitches, because I may see them two or three times."

Stick with what works: Torre shook up the lineup before Wednesday's game and the Yankees responded with a 5-2 win. Thursday, he stuck with the same batting order, leaving Tony Womack in the leadoff spot, Derek Jeter second, Alex Rodriguez fifth and Bernie Williams ninth.

"I don't know why I'd change it," Torre said. "I'd have to answer all those questions again."

Wednesday, Giambi and Williams each homered, driving in three of New York's five runs. The two men, along with No. 8 hitter Tino Martinez, combined to go 6-for-11 with four runs scored.

"To show you how smart I am, the last three guys in the batting order did all the work," Torre said. "This lineup is for today and yesterday. I'm not sure what's going to happen tomorrow. I have no problem changing it, because I think everybody is used to what we do here. Nobody seems to be insulted by it."

Personal service? John Flaherty will catch Kevin Brown on Sunday, as the right-hander will make his season debut in Baltimore.

Flaherty caught Brown through much of the spring, and Torre hinted that the two players may pair up as a regular battery, giving Flaherty a start once every five games.

"We'd like to find the one combination," Torre said, "just so we have that built-in day off all the time for Jorge [Posada]."

Flaherty has started one game this season, catching Jaret Wright on April 8.

On deck: The Yankees travel to Baltimore on Friday to kick off a three-game series against the Orioles at Camden Yards. New York dropped two of three to Baltimore last weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Carl Pavano takes the hill for New York, his first start since being hit in the head by a Melvin Mora line drive last Sunday in the Bronx. Pavano, who suffered a mild concussion, allowed three runs, one earned, in two-plus innings in that game.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.