Notes: Posada continues break

Notes: Posada continues break

CLEVELAND -- It's a rough life catcher Jorge Posada lives behind the plate, foul tips slamming into him several times a night.

It goes to figure then that a bad night of sleep would force the Yankees All-Star to miss his longest stretch of the season.

Yes, Posada missed his second straight game Saturday night with an aching neck that stems from some bad pillows in a Toronto hotel earlier this week.

The injury, however, is not believed to be serious. Posada said Saturday his neck "feels better" and manager Joe Torre said his catcher may return for Sunday's series finale.

Posada last played Wednesday, but the pain in his stiffened neck gradually worsened after taking a couple foul balls off his mask. The tenderness reached a head Friday.

But his neck improved Saturday, to the point where Posada did some light hitting. For now, though, the Yankees seem bent on being cautious.

"You don't want to mess with the neck too much," Posada said.

Posada is hitting .338 with 14 homers and 67 RBIs.

Karstens on starting track: If all goes to plan, Torre said Jeff Karstens will fill Tuesday's vacant starting spot in the rotation.

"He seems to be the guy that will get the nod," Torre said.

The only way that would change is if the Yankees were forced use Karstens out of the bullpen this weekend.

That is unlikely, but possible. Consider that New York's pen was essentially down two men Saturday night.

Reliever Jim Brower was away from the club to be with his wife, Jessica, who delivered the couple's first child -- a baby girl named Landry Joy -- in Minnesota. And the Yankees planned to give the sensational Joba Chamberlain, who tossed a pair of perfect innings Friday, at least a day of rest between outings.

In safe hands: Alex Rodriguez stood smiling and flipping a sullied ball in front of his locker following the Yankees' 6-1 win Friday.

"I finally got it," Rodriguez said.

Home run No. 500? Nah. It was No. 501, which he laced over the center-field wall in the second inning.

"There were long negotiations," Rodriguez joked. "I gave up a chapstick and a glass of water. I hope the Rutgers kid is listening."

That's a reference to Sonny Kowalczck, the Rutgers graduate student who is still sitting on Rodriguez's milestone blast.

"We're going to get it at some point," Rodriguez said. "I hope."

Goodbye Igawa? Kei Igawa's brief and disappointing tenure in pinstripes could be in its final act.

According to a report on, the San Diego Padres have placed a waiver claim on the 28-year-old left-hander.

The Yankees, if they so choose, would have until weekend's end to complete a deal.

Igawa was 2-3 with a 6.79 with the Bombers this year. And since his second and most recent demotion to Triple-A Scranton, Igawa has allowed seven earned runs over 11 innings.

Yet considering the fortune already invested in Igawa, a trade seems unlikely. The Yankees paid his former Japanese club $26 million simply for the rights to negotiate with Igawa, and then signed the pitcher to a five-year, $20 million contract.

Giambi idle: Jason Giambi has not exactly been a busy man since returning from the disabled list.

And with Melky Cabrera having entrenched himself in center field and Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui splitting time in left field and DH, that might not soon be changing.

"Buy in or not, it's the reality," Torre said. "We're trying to keep the finger on the pulse of the team and do what works."

Giambi started at DH in his second game back Wednesday, but has sat out the first two games in Cleveland. Torre said Giambi will likely see the lineup Sunday.

"Everybody understands," Torre said. "We talked to him about that. There's a lot of talent here ... and our job is to keep people sharp."

Yankees extras: Torre rode out his one-game suspension in a Jacobs Field luxury box with friend and former NBA coach Mike Fratello. Alas, the buddies had little time to talk. Fratello was busy fielding calls from friends who saw the pair on TV, including former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda. Meanwhile, Torre's pals left him alone. "I guess they figured I was managing," Torre said. ... Cabrera celebrated his 23rd birthday Saturday. ... As Rodriguez goes, so go the Bombers. The Yankees had won 17 of the last 18 games in which A-Rod has homered entering Saturday. He hit career homer No. 502 in Saturday's seven-run second inning.

On deck: The Yankees wrap up their weekend set with the Tribe on Sunday afternoon at Jacobs Field. Andy Pettite (8-7, 4.00 ERA) will be opposed by Cleveland right-hander Jake Westbrook (3-6, 5.00 ERA).

David Briggs is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.