Yankees Take Irabu, Warts and All
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Hideki Irabu will rejoin the New York Yankees this weekend and may start Wednesday’s game at Oakland.
``His role will be determined by the manager,″ Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said Saturday. ``It would be my hope he would start Wednesday.″
Irabu departed Tampa to rejoin the Yankees in Los Angeles after several meetings and a one-hour workout at the Yankees’ minor-league facility.
One day after Steinbrenner called the Japanese pitcher a ``fat ... toad,″ the Yankees said Friday that Ramiro Mendoza would start in place of Irabu at Oakland on Wednesday. Now, the possibility exists Irabu could reclaim the spot.
``His teammates are anxious to have him back,″ Steinbrenner said. ``He will do fine. It’s a good day for the Yankees,″
Irabu upset Steinbrenner by failing to cover first base in a spring game for the second time in a week. Steinbrenner on Friday indicated the pitcher might not rejoin the Yankees on Tuesday, as previously expected.
Irabu had an extensive 18-minute bullpen session Saturday with Yankees director of player personnel Billy Connors. Steinbrenner, meanwhile, met with Irabu’s agent, Don Nomura.
``We wanted Hideki to know we are all behind him,″ Steinbrenner said. ``I’m glad he spent the two days here.″
Steinbrenner did not address the specific reasons behind Saturday’s decision and Irabu didn’t comment.
Irabu has struggled this spring, going 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA. He has allowed 19 runs _ 18 earned _ and 30 hits in 19 1-3 innings.