Joba to make scheduled start

Updated: August 14, 2009, 10:32 PM ET
Associated Press

SEATTLE -- Alex Rodriguez was scratched from the Yankees' lineup Friday night because of a new ailment: back spasms.

And Joba Chamberlain will take his normal turn in New York's rotation, after all. He'll start at Seattle on Sunday.

Manager Joe Girardi had Rodriguez in the lineup for the second game of New York's series against the Mariners, after he missed Thursday's victory resting a bruised elbow.

Soon after Rodriguez entered the clubhouse about 2 hours before the first pitch, he declared he was still sore, and in his back, too. The Yankees then replaced him at third base with Jerry Hairston Jr. for the second consecutive night.

The 34-year-old Rodriguez has yet to test his elbow and back in batting practice. He said he hopes to do that Saturday, and then start the third game of the series against his former team.

These are the first consecutive days off for Rodriguez since he made his season debut on May 8 following hip surgery. Rodriguez was kept out of the starting lineup June 19 and 20 but came on as a pinch hitter in the second game of a mandated rest.

His absence is disappointing the thousands who always turn out to boo the superstar whenever he returns to Seattle. Their usual signs and shouts of "A-Fraud!" have been muted inside Safeco Field. Rodriguez spurned the team he grew up with as the first overall draft choice in 1993 to become a $252 million free agent with Texas following the 2000 season.

He thinks bracing himself for getting hit in the left elbow by a pitch from Toronto's Shawn Camp in the 11th inning of Wednesday's win in New York caused the spasms in the center of his back. He called it a freak, "one-time deal because I've never been hurt like that."

"I kind of went down and kind of went dizzy a little bit. [Had] some numbness in my finger -- I didn't feel that until like an hour later," he said. "I was thinking more about this [back]. I went down and braced myself.

"I'm going to basically have treatment all game and hopefully be ready to go play [Saturday]."

The Yankees had said Chamberlain wouldn't pitch again until Wednesday, as they try to protect their 23-year-old rising star. But Girardi said a recent spate of close and extra-inning games had worn out the bullpen and that versatile Chad Gaudin, who had been scheduled to make his first start with New York on Sunday instead of Chamberlain, is more valuable staying as a reliever for now.

Girardi said Chamberlain will now get his extended rest following Sunday's start until he likely pitches again nine days later, at home against Texas on Aug. 25.

Top starters Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia are lined up to start next weekend's series at Boston. The Yankees entered Friday 6 games ahead of the Red Sox atop the AL East.

Chamberlain isn't about to complain too loudly about being yanked around by the Yankees.

"It is what it is. I understand the history and everything that's happened," he said, referring to young phenoms such as Mark Prior whose careers have been derailed by injuries. "You've just got to be patient and try to learn.

"You want to continue to stay on your routine. It's like anybody who gets out of their own routine, it kind of throws them off a little bit," Chamberlain said. "You just understand and be patient, and learn to adjust and make the most of it."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press