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Notes: Igawa's turn to be skipped

Notes: Igawa's turn to be skipped

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NEW YORK -- The Yankees want to see Kei Igawa work more on his placement. Accordingly, his place for the weekend series against the Red Sox will be in the bullpen.

Igawa, 27, will be skipped in the Yankees' next turn around the rotation, manager Joe Torre confirmed on Thursday. The left-hander was scheduled to have pitched on Saturday, but instead will be replaced by rookie Jeff Karstens, who pitched last weekend against Boston.

"I thought Karstens pitched a more controlled game the last time he pitched, as opposed to Kei," Torre said. "Kei really struggled the other night. His stuff was fine, except that he just couldn't command it. We figured this would give him a couple times in the bullpen to work on some stuff with [pitching coach] Ron Guidry."

The Yankees invested $46 million to bring Igawa from Japan to New York over the winter, posting a $26 million fee to acquire his rights from the Hanshin Tigers and then signing the southpaw to a five-year, $20 million contract.

While Igawa has shown flashes of the pitcher the Yankees hope he will become, his first four Major League outings have been inconsistent. Igawa allowed seven runs for the second time in his brief career on Monday at Tampa Bay and was lifted in the fifth inning of a 10-8 loss to the Devil Rays.

"It looked like it wasn't easy for him to throw a ball where he wanted to," said Torre, who indicated Igawa had missed his location on some pitches by nearly a foot. "When you get to the point that you're pitching 2-0 and 3-1 all the time, you're not going to get a good result."

The Yankees plan to have Igawa re-enter their rotation at some point, although an exact date is yet unclear. New York has an off-day on Monday leading into a road series with the Rangers, and both Igawa and right-hander Mike Mussina -- on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring -- could be considerations to garner starts at that time.

In the meantime, Igawa will be available in long relief for the Yankees, who lead the American League in relief innings entering play Thursday. Igawa conducted a lengthy workout with Guidry -- who broke the news of the rotation decision to Igawa through his interpreter, Yumi Watanabe -- and was not expected to be available against Toronto.

"Gator told him, [and] he seemed to be fine," Torre said. "I wanted Gator to tell him, basically, because it was part of just doing some extra work with him. Again, it's not unusual when you have off-days and a rainout last night. It sort of bunched everything up."

Second chance: The Yankees' decision to skip Igawa's turn affords Karstens another opportunity to handle the Red Sox, one week to the day after his season debut against Boston.

Karstens was in line to be the Yankees' fifth starter out of camp before he lost the better part of three weeks to right elbow tendinitis, which cropped up in a March 25 start against the Tigers in Lakeland, Fla.

He came off the shelf to pitch last Saturday at Fenway Park, but was roughed up for seven runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings, including a two-run double and a two-run homer by David Ortiz. Karstens, 24, attributed some of the shaky outing to early rust and said he hoped a strong bullpen session would work out some of the kinks.

"To be honest, I thought I was going to be nervous the night before," Karstens said. "I got out there and it was just another game."

Captain scratched: Derek Jeter is apparently still ailing from taking a Scott Kazmir fastball to his left thigh on Tuesday at Tampa Bay.

Jeter was in Torre's original lineup for Thursday's game but was removed about an hour before game time, with a team spokesman saying that Jeter is experiencing soreness in the thigh area. Torre sent word that he still considered Jeter to be available as a player off the bench on Thursday.

Miguel Cairo filled in at shortstop, with Doug Mientkiewicz moving up to second in the Yankees lineup.

Bloody socks and former Red Sox: Johnny Damon and Mientkiewicz, two members of the 2004 World Series champion Red Sox squad, were amused to hear of Gary Thorne's comments during last night's Boston-Baltimore game.

Thorne, an Orioles broadcaster, stated on the air Wednesday night that Curt Schilling's bloody sock from the 2004 postseason wasn't really blood, citing backup catcher Doug Mirabelli as the source.

That dumbfounded Damon and Mientkiewicz, who watched up close as Schilling gritted through ankle surgeries to help his club.

"He likes attention, but he doesn't like that much attention," Mientkiewicz said. "He did it for him, he did it for us, he did it for the city. I know what it was. It wasn't nail polish."

Mientkiewicz related his memories of walking into the Boston trainer's room and witnessing one of the surgical procedures firsthand.

"The fact that you sit there and watch a guy get his ankle cut open, it's pretty gross," Mientkiewicz said. "You go into the trainer's room and you're used to seeing dislocated fingers, dislocated shoulders. You see a pretty nice bruise once in a while. You don't see an Exacto knife going to a human being's skin, but all of a sudden, there it is."

Damon said he always believed the tale of Schilling's bloody sock, and just in case there was any doubt, stated: "My beard and stuff was real."

Weather channel: Mussina will be paying attention to the forecasts for Friday, when he is slated to make a rehab appearance for the Double-A Trenton at Harrisburg, Pa. The start would be a homecoming of sorts for Mussina, who was born in Williamsport, Pa., approximately 80 miles north of Harrisburg.

That is, of course, if the game is played. Torre said that the forecast for all possible farm locations is questionable, but Mussina needs to make at least one rehab start. He could not rejoin the club after just a simulated game, Torre said.

"You never really know with the legs until you really push off," Torre said.

Coming up: The Yankees and Red Sox reconvene for Round 2 of their April heavyweight fight on Friday, with left-hander Andy Pettitte (1-0, 1.78 ERA) taking the mound for New York. The Yankees get a second look at right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-2, 4.00 ERA), with first pitch at Yankee Stadium slated for 7:05 p.m. ET.

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

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