1:15 PM ET, March 6, 2005
George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Florida
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Kevin Brown's back didn't ache and Gary Sheffield's shoulder didn't hurt. The New York Yankees remained winless in spring training but were pleased with the 2005 debuts of two stars coming off major injuries.Brown struggled through the first inning, allowing a run and three hits. Then he made some adjustments and followed with two scoreless innings Sunday in New York's 6-5 loss to the Cincinnati Reds."At least I felt like I was moving OK. I didn't feel like I was locked up. It wasn't an issue," he said.Sheffield, recovering from an offseason operation on his left shoulder, went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI singles to second base. The Yankees started their regular lineup for the first time this year -- an All-Star at every position."Just to know that you can play a baseball game without feeling the agony or the pain I had last year, I can't really explain it," Sheffield said. "I just know when I'm healthy what I can do."Jason Giambi went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice fly and a hit-by-pitch, dropping to 1-for-7 with one RBI this spring."It's starting to come now. I'm happy," he said.Following a year of illness and an offseason in the steroids spotlight, Giambi has been received warmly by fans. That could change Monday, when a Yankees' split squad goes to Fort Myers for New York's first game against Boston since the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit to win last October's AL championship series."They're not going to say anything I haven't heard before or I haven't said myself," Giambi said.New York fell to 0-3 with a tie, wasting a 5-3 lead in the ninth when Cincinnati rallied against Tom Gordon, helped by an error and a passed ball.Owner George Steinbrenner, who in the past has wanted wins even in spring training, was able to joke about the start."We're very consistent: lose, lose, lose," he said.Brown's health could be a major factor in the Yankees' pitching. He didn't feel right all of last year, and he was the loser in Game 7 against Boston.He made 53 pitches against the Reds, allowing four hits and two walks with four strikeouts."I loved what I saw," catcher Jorge Posada said.Often a curmudgeon, Brown spent much of the offseason working on his back alignment, getting help from a specialist when he was back home in Georgia. Even when he was winning at the start of last season, he didn't think he was pitching effectively. The right-hander, who turns 40 next week, was 14-9 with a 2.39 ERA for Los Angeles in 2003 before slipping to 10-6 with a 4.09 ERA last year."In my mind's eye, I want to be the pitcher that I was two years ago," he said. "I felt like I pitched probably about as well as anybody in the game."He gave up an RBI single to Rich Aurilia in the first and loaded the bases before striking out Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning. Brown had flashed his anger during the inning when he walked a batter and walked off the mound."I was just frustrated," he said. "When you're not throwing the ball where you want to throw it, I don't care if it is spring training, you're just trying to gather yourself and figure out a way to make a change."Sheffield managed to be the team's best hitter last year despite the injury, batting .290 with 36 homers and 121 RBI. But his left shoulder hurt so much he was forced to catch balls at his hip.He overdid batting practice when he first arrived in Tampa, and slowed himself down. He wasn't elevating the ball in batting practice until Saturday, and credited center fielder Bernie Williams with telling him that he was ready.Sheffield said the absence of pain was noticeable."I was pretty shocked on a couple of swings I took," he said.