Notes: Jurrjens to be rewarded
With Miller recovering, rookie to get second start Tuesday
NEW YORK -- Jair Jurrjens heard from friends and family in his native Curacao on Thursday morning. He also heard from a couple radio stations during the day. The message he really wanted to hear came in person during the afternoon.
After his relatively impressive Major League debut Wednesday night at Cleveland, the Tigers are going to give the 21-year-old right-hander another shot against the Indians. He'll start the series opener next Tuesday at Comerica Park.
Manager Jim Leyland had a few routes he could've chosen. He could've activated Andrew Miller from the disabled list to make the start. Thanks to Monday's off-day, he could've simply skipped that spot in the rotation and brought back Justin Verlander without the extra day of rest. But between Miller's rough first inning in his rehab outing Wednesday for Triple-A Toledo and the fact that Leyland doesn't like to take away rest days for his starting pitchers late in the season, bringing back Jurrjens became the popular choice.
It'll be a challenge for him to face the same club twice in a week's span. Many young pitchers have succeeded in their debuts by fooling a club that hadn't seen them before and couldn't study him on video, only to struggle in the rematch once opponents have a chance to scout him. However, Jurrjens has some performance factors in his favor, most notably a fluid delivery that Leyland said is "conducive" to throwing strikes.
"It's a very athletic-looking, compact, nice, free and easy delivery," Leyland said. "Ball comes out of his hand nice. He's OK. He's a keeper. I'm not talking about right now necessarily, but in the future he's definitely a keeper. If he refines his breaking ball a little bit and changeup a little bit more, he has a chance to be a good one."
Leyland also liked the way Jurrjens used his fastball to both sides of the plate, then mixed in his offspeed pitch as the game went on.
"I was really impressed with him," Leyland said. "He just ran into a buzzsaw."
The buzzsaw was Indians starter Fausto Carmona, who tossed eight innings of two-run ball for the victory. With Cleveland running a four-man rotation for the time being, Jurrjens is scheduled to have the misfortune of starting opposite Carmona again Tuesday.
As for Miller, he rejoined the team at Yankee Stadium on Thursday and will stick around for the next few days until he throws his between-starts side session. He'll travel with the team back home and then head to Triple-A Toledo, where he'll make another rehab start for the Mud Hens on Monday night.
"It felt good towards the end of the first inning," Miller said of Wednesday, when he gave up a five-run opening inning en route to three innings of work with five hits and five walks allowed. "It just took a while to settle down. I don't know, for whatever reason, I made it harder than it should've been. It just felt kind of foreign at first, but once I got out there for a little while, it started to feel a lot better."
Sheff speaks: Gary Sheffield's return to the Bronx became a media spectacle before the game, but there was little from the ex-Yankees slugger that he hadn't said already. Essentially, he let his previous comments that he felt he and other African-American players were treated differently by Yankees manager Joe Torre compared to others on the team stand.
"I meant what I said, said what I said, and stand by what I said," Sheffield summarized.
He also cited the lack of support he felt from the Yankees organization.
"The only person that wanted me there was [owner] George Steinbrenner," Sheffield said. "So I always had that cloud over my head. But I know how to perform with clouds over my head."
Batting in his usual third spot in the order, Sheffield came up to bat with two outs in the first inning and received a strong, but not overwhelming, round of boos from the crowd at Yankee Stadium. It was stronger when he stepped to the plate again in the second.
"As long as they appreciate what I've done," Sheffield said of the crowd before the game, "that's all that matters."
Quarantined: It wasn't a budding rivalry that was keeping the Tigers and Yankees from saying hello to each other Thursday in their first meeting since the playoffs last October. It was the sign in the Yankee clubhouse posted by the New York medical staff.
"The Tigers have medical issues that we do not wish to contract," the sign read in part.
The issue, of course, is the flu that continues to make its way through the Detroit roster. While Ivan Rodriguez returned to the lineup Thursday after missing Wednesday's game and Todd Jones was available, Placido Polanco missed his third consecutive game, and Craig Monroe remained out.
Zach Miner was among the new patients. Carlos Guillen was back in at shortstop, but was feeling the flu's effects.
The Yankees, understandably, want no part of that. Leyland and Torre are good friends and talked before the game, but their conversation was limited to the telephone.
"I called Jimmy," Torre told reporters. "I said, 'Jimmy, nothing personal, but we've been asked not to cohabitate with you guys.'"
Even the clubhouse assistants were discouraged from moving around clubhouse to clubhouse. Reliever Tim Byrdak asked about having a Roger Clemens jersey autographed, but that wasn't looking realistic.
Coming up: Nate Robertson (7-9, 5.01 ERA) will try to build on his slump-busting loss from last Sunday when he makes his first start at Yankee Stadium since the postseason in Friday's second game of the series. Andy Pettitte (9-7, 3.93 ERA) will start for the Yankees. Game time is 7:05 p.m. ET.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.