TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Dwight Gooden struck out six over three shutout innings for the New York Yankees' Gulf Coast League team Saturday in his first start since signing a minor-league contract.

Gooden _ pitching against a Montreal Expos' rookie league team _ allowed a bloop double to leadoff hitter Juan Infante. He then retired the next nine hitters.

``I went back to the basics and what feels good,'' said Gooden, who threw 29 of 39 pitches for strikes. ``I felt great.''

Gooden, 35, said he expects to throw five innings next Wednesday or Thursday in Florida.

``We'll take it from there,'' Gooden said. ``I wanted to be in the major leagues yesterday, but no matter how long it takes, we're going to do the necessary things.''

Gooden, who was released last month by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, could join Triple-A Columbus next month.