Notes: Mussina leaves with leg strain

Notes: Mussina leaves with leg strain

MINNEAPOLIS -- Yankees right-hander Mike Mussina left Wednesday's start against the Twins in the third inning with a strained left hamstring, which will cost him at least his next turn around the rotation.

Mussina worked two complete innings against Minnesota, making his second start of the season, but called to pitching coach Ron Guidry after feeling a repeating "grab" in the back of his leg.

"It was the same feeling over and over," Mussina said. "I knew I couldn't pitch effectively if it was going to go that way."

The 38-year-old faced two batters in the third inning, allowing hits to Luis Rodriguez and Alexi Casilla before exiting with a 2-1 count on Twins leadoff batter Luis Castillo.

Mussina remains optimistic that he could be able to avoid a stint on the disabled list, saying that the strain is so minor, trainer Gene Monahan suggested that Mussina could resume throwing as soon as the club's weekend series at Oakland.

"I don't feel too bad," Mussina said. "I've had worse [pain] -- not in the hamstring, but I've had worse."

Torre said that Mussina will not be available to make what would have been his next start, on Tuesday against the Indians at Yankee Stadium.

Instead, that effort is likely to go to right-hander Darrell Rasner, who started Sunday against the Orioles in New York. Rasner battled a blister on the index finger of his pitching hand in the Yankees' 6-4 loss that afternoon, allowing five runs in a 4 1/3-inning effort.

In two starts this season, Mussina is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA. He has allowed 11 hits and six earned runs in six innings pitched, walking three and striking out four.

Second time around: Left-hander Kei Igawa hopes for better results in his second Major League start, which is scheduled to come Friday evening at Oakland's McAfee Coliseum.

Igawa was shaky in his Yankee Stadium debut, allowing seven runs on eight hits in five innings to the Orioles on April 7. Though he was rescued from suffering a loss by Alex Rodriguez's memorable game-winning grand slam, Igawa said he was looking forward to turning the page and getting a second chance to make an impression.

"I don't want to repeat the performance of the last outing," Igawa said through an interpreter. "Hopefully, this will be a lot better."

In his last start, Igawa appeared unable to command his curveball and changeup, with only his fastball a reliable tool to throw at Baltimore's lineup.

"It's really tough to go out and win a ballgame if you're only throwing one pitch," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

The results may not have been there in New York, but so far, the Yankees appear willing to chalk that up to inhospitable wintry conditions. The entire rotation was unable to compile a quality start during the homestand.

Torre believed that the difficulties were two-fold for Igawa, who also had to contend with the pressure of making his Major League debut at Yankee Stadium -- a fan environment Igawa has compared to the ones he experienced with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan.

"I think that was a product of going out there and maybe trying too hard," Torre said. "I just want to see the same pitcher who pitched the last games of Spring Training."

That said, Igawa isn't completely looking to leave behind his first experiences in a Yankees uniform. He said he plucked one of the game balls from his start and has tucked it away for safekeeping.

Wasn't watching: Igawa said he had an interest in the Daisuke Matsuzaka-Ichiro Suzuki showdown that played out at Boston's Fenway Park on Wednesday, although his attention would admittedly be elsewhere.

"Tonight, I'll be watching the Yankees game," Igawa said.

Igawa said he would log on to the Internet after the Yankees' game and read some of the coverage of Matsuzaka vs. Ichiro, which -- not surprisingly -- is a major news story in Japan.

Melkin' it: One day after Torre insisted that he was not concerned with Melky Cabrera's 2-for-28 start to the regular season, the Yankees outfielder has worked his way off any hot seat that may have been intimated.

"It's OK," Cabrera said. "No problem -- every day I'm working in the cage."

Cabrera went 3-for-4 in the Yankees' 10-1 victory Tuesday over the Twins, and he is expected to be the team's everyday left fielder while Hideki Matsui works his way back from a strained left hamstring.

"He needed that," Torre said.

Picking it clean: This week's trip to the Metrodome appeared to work wonders for the Yankees' defense, which had committed more errors than expected during the club's first homestand against the Devil Rays and Orioles.

Taking nicely to the carpet in Minnesota, the Yankees played errorless baseball in the first two games of the series and continued their stellar defense in the third and final game, with Robinson Cano contributing a leaping catch to rob Jason Kubel in the second inning and Derek Jeter turning a nifty double play on Nick Punto's outfield popup in the third inning.

"I'm seeing things now that make me feel good," Torre said. "They're playing more aggressive. On turf, you have a tendency to sit back as the ball gets to you, and gets you into bad habits. But they're playing real aggressively on the turf."

Coming up: Following an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees return to action Friday evening in Oakland, playing the first game of a weekend series with the Athletics.

Igawa (0-0, 12.60 ERA) gets the call for his second Major League start, matching up with right-hander Dan Haren (0-2, 0.69). First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. ET.

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