Torre says left-hander will pitch Sunday's game
BOSTON -- The New York Yankees acquired left-hander Al Leiter -- and most of the money to pay him -- from the Florida Marlins and scheduled him to start Sunday's series finale against the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees will be responsible for about $400,000 of the $2.8 million remaining on Leiter's 2005 salary, general manager Brian Cashman said Saturday. There were no other players involved in the deal.
"We'll take a chance," he said. "It wasn't going to hurt us in terms of player talent, and it wasn't going to cost us a lot."
The Yankees are desperate for pitching help with four starters on the disabled list. Kevin Brown, who has been on the DL since June 16 with a back strain, will return to start Monday.
"It's a very thin market," Cashman said. "In the next two weeks, we need to hold serve, or tread water ... until our reinforcements can come back."
Cashman conceded that Leiter was no longer a front-line starter but held out hope that he would be an improvement in the back of the rotation. Tim Redding was called up from Triple-A to make an emergency start on Friday, and the Yankees lost 17-1; he was designated for assignment to make room for Leiter.
The Yankees have used 11 starters this season -- most in the AL.
"If you compare him [Leiter] to our fifth-starter sample -- which is getting rather long -- his numbers look a lot better," Cashman said. "We'll take a chance to see what we have there. Hopefully, it will be an upgrade from what we've been trying."
The Marlins designated Leiter for assignment on Thursday after he went 3-7 with a 6.64 ERA this season. He is due to make $8 million this year despite struggling to pitch like he did in his first stint with the team, when he won 27 games and helped the Marlins with the 1997 World Series.
"Disappointed would not explain how I felt. Then I found out from my agent that teams were interested in me," Leiter said in a statement released by the Yankees. "This is where I started in '87, and 21 years ago I was drafted by the Yankees. To come full-circle, I'm very excited."
The Yankees drafted Leiter in '84 but traded him to Toronto in 1989. He signed with the Marlins as a free agent before the '96 season and threw Florida's first no-hitter that year, but he was traded to the Mets during the Marlins' post-World Series payroll purge.
Leiter, 39, won a career-best 17 games for the Mets in 1998 and pitched a two-hit shutout against Cincinnati to clinch the NL wild card in 1999. With the Mets bullpen depleted in Game 5 of the 2000 World Series against the Yankees, he went 8 2/3 innings before running out of gas and losing 4-2.
Leiter was 10-8 with a 3.21 ERA for the Mets last season. He is 158-127 with a 3.76 ERA in his career and 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA in 17 career postseason games.
"The fact that he's pitched in New York, he's pitched in championship games, for both Miami and the Mets. The fact that he's had that experience, we think we can catch some lightning in a bottle here," manager Joe Torre said. "The experience is a big part of what helps when you pitch for our ballclub."
New York has been searching for a starter because Brown, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright are all on the disabled list. Chien-Ming Wang joined them there on Thursday, a day before he was scheduled to start against Boston, with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Brown started the season on the DL because of a back strain, was activated April 17 and went 5-6 with a 5.48 ERA.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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