Yankees get scare when Burnett is hit by liner

March 19, 2009 9:48:00 PM PDT
A.J. Burnett's pitching performance quickly became a secondary concern for the New York Yankees. The right-hander, hit on the upper part of his left arm by John McDonald's second-inning line drive, remained in the game and wound up allowing one run and three hits over 3 1-3 innings during New York's 7-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.

"Fortunately, it hit his left triceps," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He said he was fine. I'm glad it wasn't his right triceps."

Toronto starter Casey Janssen, competing for a rotation spot after missing last season due to right shoulder surgery, left with one out in the first because of tightness in the shoulder. The Blue Jays said the problem was due to muscle fatigue and Janssen will be re-examined by team doctors Friday.

"Just a little tight," Janssen said. "Affected the full extension on my pitches. Maybe the first hiccup. I don't think it's bad."

Janssen said the tightness is not in the same area of his surgery, which took place a year ago.

"It's just a bummer I didn't get through this outing," he said. "It made sense to get me out of there. You've got to be smart with shoulders."

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, coming back from right shoulder surgery last October, needed just five pitches to work a perfect sixth. The right-hander, scheduled to pitch again Saturday, threw an additional 10 pitches in the bullpen.

"The whole process is good, but you want to throw more. That's why I went to the bullpen," Rivera said. "I'm happy I feel good."

Rivera has retired all six batters he's faced this spring.

Burnett walked three and struck out one during a 61-pitch outing against his former team. He was coming off a pair of strong starts in which he gave up one hit in six shutout innings.

"I needed that one," Burnett said. "I needed one where I needed to work."

The Blue Jays got good news before the game about three injured players.

Center fielder Vernon Wells is expected to return from a strained left hamstring and make his first spring training appearance as a designated hitter on Friday. Last month, Wells re-injured the hamstring that sidelined him for a month late last season.

"Vernon is always going to be the guy that tells me if he's ready or not," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "He looked OK today."

Wells could play three innings in the field Saturday.

Third baseman Scott Rolen, who left Wednesday's game with back stiffness, could take batting practice Friday and play Saturday.

Outfielder Travis Snider hurt his left knee Wednesday and didn't play against the Yankees. He will likely miss a couple more days.

"Snider's a little sore, but nothing serious," Gaston said.

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada played defense for the third time since right shoulder surgery last July 30. He is scheduled to complete his first back-to-back games behind the plate when he catches Andy Pettitte in a minor league game Friday.

"I'm really excited about how I feel," Posada said.

Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher is day to day after fouling a ball off his left calf. He will not play on Friday.

"It's just a little stiff," Swisher said. "It will go away. I'll be fine."

Notes: Girardi said the CF competition between Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera is close, and that the team might keep both on the opening-day roster. ... Yankees 2B Robinson Cano (right shoulder tendinitis) is scheduled to resume playing the field in Friday's road game against Minnesota. ... Gaston said C Rod Barajas and outfielder Alex Rios, both of whom took part in the World Baseball Classic, will play Friday. Rios will start in center if Wells is not ready to play the field on opening day. ... Yankees reliever Damaso Marte (left shoulder inflammation) threw off a bullpen mound and could pitch in a game Sunday. ... New York RHP Chien-Ming Wang is on line to possibly pitch the first of two exhibition games against the Chicago Cubs at the new Yankee Stadium on April 3.