Igawa sent to Minors

Igawa sent to Minors

NEW YORK -- Kei Igawa's big-league career is making a detour to the Minors.

Citing inconsistency and ineffectiveness over half of his first six Major League appearances, the Yankees optioned the 27-year-old left-hander to Class A Tampa on Monday.

"We just want to get him comfortable doing something different and that's not going to be easy," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "It's not going to come overnight. The most important thing is that he understands it and trusts the fact that this is going to be good for him."

The Yankees made a $46 million investment in Igawa, a three-time strikeout leader with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan's Central League, but the import has had issues maintaining his performance early in his Major League career.

"I had success here and also failure as well," Igawa said through an interpreter. "To be consistent at the Major League level, I can definitely go down to adjust in the Minors."

The Yankees had originally intended to send right-hander Darrell Rasner down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a move to create roster space for Monday's starter, rookie Matt DeSalvo, but Torre and general manager Brian Cashman met Monday and instead decided to ship out Igawa instead.

Torre said that Igawa handled the message -- which was delivered in a meeting before Monday's game against the Mariners -- rather well.

"We're just trying to get him comfortable with what we feel will help him be more consistent," Torre said. "He took the news fine. We took a lot of time obviously making sure that he understood that he's still very important to us and we're taking this step to get him better than he is."

"I think going down to the Minors is an opportunity to adjust and come back to the Majors [at] 100 percent," Igawa said.

Igawa has had bright spots in his brief big-league tenure, most recently a six-inning relief stint against the Red Sox on April 28, in which Igawa allowed no runs and two hits.

But Igawa -- who is 2-1 with a 7.63 ERA in six appearances (five starts) -- was in the bullpen that day because his previous start against the Devil Rays was unsuccessful. On April 23, Igawa allowed seven runs on eight hits in a loss at St. Petersburg, Fla., prompting the Yankees to remove him from the pitching rotation.

Igawa's last effort, a May 4 loss to the Mariners, was similarly frustrating for the Yankees. Igawa allowed eight runs on nine hits in four innings of work, surrendering three home runs, despite the fact he later told reporters his effort had been acceptable and he threw just one bad pitch.

In that most recent start, Igawa even abandoned his full windup, preferring to instead pitch from the stretch, where he feels he can find better control. That leads the Yankees to believe that Igawa must make adjustments related to his balance; Igawa has walked 13 and struck out 19 in 30 2/3 Major League innings.

"There are some things he's got to fix, mechanically, we believe," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "He's had six games here: three been very good and three have been not very good.

"He's got Major League ability, we have no doubt about that. We've seen it in three games, but unfortunately we're not seeing it consistently."

While with Tampa, Igawa will work with pitching coordinator Nardi Contreras and Minor League pitching coach Gil Patterson.

The process could be a relatively lengthy one -- Contreras said the early focus of his efforts with Igawa would concern deconstructing his pitching motion and performing a lot of work in the bullpen and in dry mound sessions, with game action a secondary concern at this time.

"I don't know how long it's going to take," Igawa said, "but I'm going to do my best to get back up."

Contreras -- who was at Yankee Stadium on Monday to watch his pupil, DeSalvo, make his Major League debut against the Seattle Mariners -- said that he has a plan to help bypass the language barrier inherent in dealing with Igawa, who speaks little English and relies on a full-time interpreter to translate into Japanese.

Contreras said has already ordered a montage of videotape depicting star left-handed pitchers like Chicago's Mark Buehrle and the Mets' Tom Glavine in the hopes of relaying messages to Igawa by image.

"He's got the stuff to pitch here in the big leagues, and it shows it when he's able to throw strikes," Contreras said. "It's just getting to a consistent basis. We have to give him a chance to repeat his delivery."

Igawa, who was touted as a long-term asset by Cashman on the day he was introduced to the New York media in January, said that he was aware a reassignment to the Minor Leagues could be a possibility when he signed his contract with the organization.

"If you don't show results here up in the Major Leagues, the Yankees demote to [the] Minors," Igawa said. "I knew that before I signed with the team."

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