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April 18, 2007
Chase Wright looked at his cell phone Wednesday.
“There's quite a few new numbers that I haven't seen,” he said.
That's what happens when you win your major league debut for the New York Yankees.
After beating Cleveland at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night, Wright faces an even tougher task Sunday: He's scheduled to start at Fenway Park in a nationally televised game against the Boston Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka.
“All right,” he said after reporters informed him of the news. “This is the first I heard of it.”
Manager Joe Torre assumed that pitching coach Ron Guidry had told Wright, but word hadn't filtered down to the 24-year-old left-hander, who allowed three runs and five hits in five innings in the 10-3 victory over Cleveland. Wright has never even been to Fenway.
“It's going to be pretty intense,” he said. “Down at the minor league levels, we know we're playing the Red Sox and stuff, but it's a whole different level up here.”
With Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano on the disabled list, New York will start Andy Pettitte against Curt Schilling on Friday in the first meeting between the teams this season. The Yankees follow with a pair of rookies, Jeff Karstens and Wright, while Boston goes with Josh Beckett and Dice-K.
New York currently has four rookies in its rotation: Kei Igawa started Wednesday against the Indians and Darrell Rasner was slated for Thursday. It will be the first time prior to September that the Yankees started three straight rookies since Scott Kamieniecki, Jeff Johnson and Wade Taylor at Oakland from July 18-20, 1991, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Torre's first preference wasn't to go with youthful starters in Boston, but his depleted staff leaves him no choice.
“If you can give me an alternative, I'll use it,” he said. “Spring training we had too many. Now we hope we have enough.”
Wright, who hadn't pitched above Double-A prior to this week, said he didn't hear much razzing in the minors — the biggest crowd he pitched in front of before Tuesday was during a spring training game this year at Lakeland, Fla. He said heckling at high school games inspired him to pitch better.
Fenway figures to be a wee bit more hostile.
“I don't think anybody knows what that is up there until you get up there,” Torre said. “We just feel emotionally he can handle it. I'm not saying he's not going to have some butterflies. You hope he will, because that's the excitement part.”
Karstens will rejoin the Yankees on Thursday and be activated Saturday. He felt stiffness in his right elbow during a spring training start March 25 and made a minor league rehab start Monday.
Hideki Matsui, recovering from a strained left hamstring, is to start a rehab assignment Friday in Tampa, Fla., and Torre expects the left fielder to be available for Monday's series opener at Tampa Bay. Mussina, who strained a hamstring April 11, likely will have a rehab start before he is activated. Pavano, sidelined by a sore forearm, probably will start throwing in a few days.
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