Notes: Igawa comfy in the shade(s)
Starter shows significant progress in second spring start
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The second time around, Kei Igawa's performance appeared brighter. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that his vision was a little dimmer.
Igawa's second Grapefruit League start was deemed a success, as the left-hander threw three innings in New York's 5-3 victory over the Pirates on Saturday.
He allowed five hits, including a two-run homer, but pitching coach Ron Guidry said the development of the day was Igawa's eyewear selection.
Recently, the Japanese hurler asked Guidry for permission to wear sunglasses during game competition. Guidry received clearance from the umpires at McKechnie Field on Saturday and said that the accessories might have given Igawa some added comfort.
"The worst [the umpires] can tell you to do is take it off," Guidry said. "I think up here" -- Guidry pointed to his temple -- "maybe, psychologically, he liked the sunglasses. Just in a day game, though. I told him, 'We don't pitch with sunglasses here at night.'"
Five days after a rocky debut against the Tigers at Legends Field, Igawa's line improved, as he walked none and struck out four in a 40-pitch (29 for strikes) performance.
Igawa finished up with 15 more pitches in the bullpen, a step up over his debut, when he worked too fast for the Yankees' tastes and used his allotted 40 pitches in one-plus inning.
"Chalk it up to [being] the first time out and all the stuff around him," Guidry said. "He could have been nervous. He said he wasn't nervous, but that doesn't mean anything. You can still get pumped up for that."
With four spring innings in the books, Igawa said that his changeup leaves something to be desired. He said that he continues to be mindful of his need to prove that he belongs as a Major League pitcher.
Pittsburgh's Ronny Paulino took advantage of a pair of hanging offerings from Igawa, hammering a double off the left-field wall in the first inning and blasting the two-run shot in the third.
"This is the time in the season where I have to prepare," Igawa said through interpreter Yumi Watanbe. "All I thought was I wanted to show I belong there. ... My command will get better."
The Yankees have an idea what Igawa offers them. Guidry opined that Igawa could be an innings-eater, and catcher Raul Chavez predicted that Igawa's changeup will be a legitimate Major League pitch.
"When he gets that pitch down, he's going to get a lot of outs in the big leagues," Chavez said.
A three-time strikeout champion with the Hanshin Tigers, Igawa continues to ring batters up for third strikes. He fanned four Pittsburgh batters in the three-inning performance and now has seven for the spring; in his first start, Igawa struck out all three batters he retired.
"This is pretty much what we expected: Throw a lot of strikes and be able to mix it up," manager Joe Torre said. "He made a couple of pitches in the middle of the plate, but that's Spring Training. That's one thing we have to keep in mind. We can't look for perfection at this point."
Guidry said that Igawa's slider, for the moment, is trustier as a strikeout pitch, working off his low-90s fastball and changeup. His curveball is more for show at this point, and Guidry said that Igawa may go until the regular season before truly feeling comfortable with the curve.
"Like every pitcher knows, you're not going to have great stuff every time out," Guidry said. "Sometimes it's going to be a struggle. As long as you can tune it down to minimal damages, the club here will have a shot to win the game. He doesn't have to go out and pitch shutout ball."
Pavano returns: Carl Pavano returned to Legends Field on Saturday, one day after he was excused from a scheduled start against the Devil Rays to attend to a personal issue.
Torre said that Pavano, who threw a 10-minute bullpen session Saturday, has attended to the matter. Having missed what would have been his second spring appearance, Pavano is now scheduled to start on Monday against the Red Sox in Fort Myers.
"He understands what he needs to do," Torre said. "The other stuff isn't baseball-related. Whatever attention he has to pay to it will be on his own time."
Darrell Rasner and Ross Ohlendorf, both of whom Torre had tabbed earlier to start that 7:05 p.m. ET contest, are now scheduled to pitch in relief.
Off the bus: Catcher Wil Nieves was scratched from Saturday's trip to Bradenton with inflammation of his right elbow.
The backstop, vying to hold off veteran Todd Pratt in a race to serve as Jorge Posada's backup catcher, remained behind in Tampa and was scheduled to have tests performed. P.J. Pillittere made the trip in Nieves' place.
Side action: First baseman Andy Phillips is close to returning to game play, Torre said. Current plans are for Phillips to bat against Andy Pettitte in a simulated contest on Monday at Legends Field.
Phillips missed a week of camp when he left the team to attend to his injured mother, Linda, in Birmingham, Ala., following a serious automobile accident.
Phillips has resumed training and will see several at-bats in a four-inning afternoon affair, which is being conducted in order to save Pettitte from making a lengthy trip to Fort Myers for an evening game.
The simulated game also prevents the Red Sox from receiving an advance look at Pettitte, who is returning to the American League after a three-year stint with the Astros.
Torre said that Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera, Jason Giambi and Hideki Matsui will be among the regulars making the trip to Fort Myers.
Abreu update: Torre said that right fielder Bobby Abreu (strained right oblique) hit off a tee on Saturday and showed no effects. Earlier, Torre said Abreu "felt fine" after taking dry swings with a bat on Friday.
Abreu has been sidelined since Feb. 26, but has been working on strengthening his midsection to avoid a recurrence.
"The big step is going to be batting practice, because that's when it's unrehearsed," Torre said. "Tee stuff, there's no surprise. The ball doesn't move, [and] you don't check your swings."
Dinner time: Former Yankees outfielder and current YES Network broadcaster Paul O'Neill will be honored with a dinner and auction in New York on April 16.
Proceeds from the event will benefit a charity being established by O'Neill called "Right Field Charities," which is a product of his long involvement with non-profit ventures for the community.
The dinner will be held at the Hammerstein Ballroom at 311 West 34th Street in New York, with Yankees broadcasters Michael Kay and John Sterling serving as masters of ceremonies. For ticket information, contact Eagel Sports Promotions at (914) 332-4772.
Coming up: The Yankees play the 11th game of their 30-game Grapefruit League schedule on Sunday, matching up against the Cleveland Indians in a 1:15 p.m. ET start at Legends Field.
Chien-Ming Wang (1-0, 3.60 ERA) is scheduled to start for New York, and is scheduled to be followed by Phil Hughes, Scott Proctor, Chris Britton and Ron Villone.
Cleveland counters with Fausto Carmona (0-1, 9.00 ERA), followed by Roberto Hernandez, Jason Davis, Fernando Cabrera and Brian Sikorsky.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.