Notes: Wright where he wants to be

Notes: Wright where he wants to be

ST. PETERSBURG -- George Steinbrenner was very happy to see Jaret Wright make a successful return to the rotation on Monday night, and the owner had some kind words for Billy Connors, the man that helped Wright work his way back from his shoulder injury.

"Billy Connors brought Jaret Wright along with patience," said Steinbrenner through his spokesperson, Howard Rubenstein. "He stuck with him, with great results."

Added the owner of Connors, the team's vice president of player personnel: "He's a real pro."

Wright said Tuesday that Connors played a big part in his return, as did Mark Littlefield, the club's Tampa-based trainer, who made sure that Wright remained positive through the long rehab program.

"When I first started throwing, I was really screwed up, mechanically," Wright said. "Trying to come back from being hurt, losing my arm slot, basically everything felt weird to throw. I worked with Billy, and he really helped me get back in sync. Toward the end, I thought my mechanics were the best they'd been in a while."

Wright allowed two runs in 6 1/3 innings, improving to 3-2 on the season. Catcher Jorge Posada said that Wright looked like a different pitcher, using more than his trademark fastball and sinker as he mixed in some sliders and changeups.

"He was fun to catch; he was pitching more than just throwing the ball," Posada said. "It really takes a lot to want to come back. When you want to come back, you work hard and do the things you're supposed to do to come back. It takes a lot."

Wright felt no unusual soreness in his shoulder on Tuesday, saying he felt "normal," and he is confident that he will be able to take the ball every five days without a problem.

"Every day we win a game is a lift," said general manager Brian Cashman. "If Jaret Wright is healthy, he can be a big asset in the rotation."

"It looked like he had an easy time, so it doesn't surprise me," said manager Joe Torre. "He looked very fluid, he didn't force anything and he threw a lot of strikes. He was competitive, and that was the question I had."

Wright received about 15 congratulatory phone calls on Monday night, including one from his father, Clyde.

"That's the most calls I've gotten in four months. I don't even know half those people," he said. "He knows it takes a lot of work to come back. It meant something to me to come back from something like that, and he was proud."

Wright's next start is scheduled for Sunday in Chicago, as he finally gets to leave the Tampa area after almost four months.

"I can't wait," he said. "I think I'm going to make one last run over to the mall, just to see if I missed something."

Good news for Brown: Kevin Brown, on the disabled list with a lumbar strain, made a second visit to back specialist Dr. Robert Watkins in Los Angeles, where the pitcher received some good news.

According to Torre, Dr. Watkins said there was "marked improvement" in Brown's condition, leaving open the possibility that the right-hander will pitch again this season. Brown is currently at home in Macon, Ga., undergoing daily treatment with his physical therapist.

"There is a chance, if he continues to improve, that he'll be able to pitch for us in September," said Torre, who added that Brown could be given a bullpen role should he return. "Not until he starts throwing will we know that, but that the doctor was pleased with the change, that's a plus."

Heads up for Duncan: Eric Duncan, one of the Yankees' top Minor League prospects, was hit in the head by a pitch on Sunday during Trenton's game against Akron.

The third baseman experienced some recurring headaches, so he was sent for a precautionary CT scan on Tuesday, though results were unavailable.

"He's had a few headaches," said his agent, Billy Rose, "so he wanted to be safe rather than sorry."

Duncan is hitting .237 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs in his first season at Double-A.

On deck: The Yankees close out their three-game set against the Devil Rays on Wednesday, as left-hander Al Leiter (6-10, 6.14 ERA) takes on fellow southpaw Mark Hendrickson (7-7, 6.77 ERA).

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