Brown left Wednesday after two innings
NEW YORK -- Tests on Kevin Brown's troublesome back showed no major damage, and he might not even miss a start for the New York Yankees.
Brown was treated for a strained lower back Friday and is day to day after getting hurt earlier in the week.
He had an MRI, CT scan and X-rays on Thursday. The tests did not reveal a herniated disk, the team said. Brown had surgery to repair a disc in his back in 2002.
"The good news is there is no structural damage," manager Joe Torre said. "We'll play it by ear. He can pitch any time he feels ready."
Torre left open the possibility that Brown could make his next scheduled start Tuesday in Arizona -- but said it's up to Brown. If he's not available, Tanyon Sturtze will probably make his first start for New York since being acquired from Los Angeles on May 15.
"I don't think we're under any stress to make a decision because we have the off day Monday," Torre said.
Brown was receiving treatment on his back and was unavailable for comment before the Yankees played the San Diego Padres on Friday night.
The right-hander was forced to leave Wednesday night's start against Colorado after two ineffective innings because of stiffness in his lower back. He said he felt as if a "steel rod" was in his back.
Torre said Brown has been having problems with his back since the start of the season and that it was important to "get it straightened out for Kevin's psyche."
Brown started strong, going 4-0 in March and April. But he's struggled some since, with his ERA steadily climbing from 2.89 on May 11 to 4.13.
He left the team for two days for an unspecified reason during the last week of May and returned to beat Tampa Bay for the fourth time this season. But in his next two starts, Brown gave up 12 hits and 10 runs -- eight earned -- in eight innings.
New York has the best record in the majors, but the health and depth of its rotation remains the team's biggest concern.
The 39-year-old Brown has been on the disabled list six times in the previous five years. He was beset by back problems before the Yankees got the six-time All-Star in a trade with Los Angeles.
Sturtze is 1-0 for New York with a 4.15 ERA in five relief appearances spanning 13 innings.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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