Yankees' Dotel fires first big-league pitch in 14 months

Updated: August 17, 2006, 12:10 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Octavio Dotel returned to the major leagues 14 months after a ligament was replaced in his right elbow, and the hard-throwing righty threw 13 pitches Wednesday night in a relief appearance during the New York Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

Octavio Dotel
Dotel

Dotel, operated on in June 2005, spent most of this year rehabilitating his elbow at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla.

"Finally, I made it," he said.

He started by striking out Melvin Mora on eight pitches in the eighth inning, his fastball reaching 97 mph, then gave up a single to Miguel Tejada and walked Jay Gibbons on four pitches.

Yankees manager Joe Torre came to the mound, patted Dotel on the back and brought in Scott Proctor. After a walk loaded the bases, Kevin Millar grounded into a double play.

"Everything I threw today feels pretty good. I don't know if it was great," Dotel said. "I feel like I'm almost 100 percent back."

Dotel said he had been throwing 94-95 mph.

"I guess New York made me have a couple more miles," he said.

For now, he figures to join Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth as late-inning setup men for closer Mariano Rivera.

"I expect him to be more comfortable after that," Torre said. "His stuff was fine. Basically, I think he has to settle in. I didn't plan on bringing him into the eighth inning of a close game like that, but we decided it was as good a time as any."

Signed in December to a $2 million, one-year contract, Dotel had 36 saves for Houston and Oakland in 2004. But last year he was 1-2 with seven saves and a 3.52 earned-run average with Oakland and blew four saves in five outings from April 30 to May 11. He went on the disabled list May 20, then had surgery June 6.

To open a roster space, the Yankees optioned reliever Jose Veras to Triple-A Columbus.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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