Notes: Igawa impressive in outing

Notes: Igawa impressive in outing

TAMPA, Fla. -- It wasn't the real deal for Kei Igawa, but it was pretty close.

Wearing his Yankees pinstripes, the 27-year-old left-hander connected with batterymate Jorge Posada, worked with the Major League infield of Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Doug Mientkiewicz behind him, and pitched well.

So what if it was just an intrasquad game, and the first batter -- speedy leadoff man Brett Gardner -- shocked Igawa with a perfectly-placed bunt single?

With 19 pitches, 14 strikes and two scoreless innings in the books, Igawa has wet his feet in preparation for a Grapefruit League debut on Monday against Detroit.

"I'm very honored to play with these teammates," Igawa said through interpreter Yumi Watanbe. "I was not nervous, but I was definitely excited."

Before his performance at Legends Field, pitching coach Ron Guidry took Igawa aside and told him to have fun. Igawa has shown improvement since a rusty bullpen session two weeks ago, and Guidry's message was to not try and impress anyone in this setting -- as he put it -- don't try to make the ballclub in one day.

"It was a good outing for him, to get this kind of stuff out of the way in a game situation," Guidry said. "The game didn't mean anything, but it meant a lot to us just to watch him throw so we can familiarize ourselves with how he goes about his work."

Pitching for guest manager Yogi Berra and facing a lineup commanded by Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson and comprised mostly of Minor Leaguers, Igawa kept the ball on the ground, worked quickly and showed good mound presence.

"He's very efficient," manager Joe Torre said. "There's really no wasted motions. He's very compact and he goes after hitters. I think that's a sign of knowing what you want to do."

After Gardner's leadoff bunt single, Igawa induced Bronson Sardinha to bounce a double-play ball to Jeter, then got Jose Tabata to ground out.

In the second inning, Juan Miranda hit a sky-high pop-up on the infield that Doug Mientkiewicz snagged, then retired Josh Phelps and Marcos Vechionacchi on infield outs.

"The fastballs were well located," Phelps said. "It looked like he had an idea."

Igawa has worked two batting practice sessions with the Yankees' hitters, plus the two-inning performance on Tuesday, so he is becoming less of a mystery within the clubhouse.

Opposing clubs -- like the Tigers next week -- should still regard him as a curiosity, and the Yankees hope that Igawa's abilities will continue to be a great unknown, at least a few times around the American League.

"The word gets out quick," Mientkiewicz said. "That's why they've got 15 people [scouts] checking you out each game. I'm sure they've got tapes on him already, but until you're in the box facing someone like that for the first time, it's going to take some time."

Card trick: Jeter said he has not yet seen an image of his 2007 Topps baseball card, which made it to the market after a prankster had super-imposed images of President Bush and Mickey Mantle.

The card, which is No. 40 in the set, features Jeter batting at Yankee Stadium. Bush is standing and waving from the field-level seats behind the Yankees' dugout, while Mantle is pictured in the dugout, wielding a bat and apparently preparing to hit.

"[I] haven't seen it," Jeter said. "Why would they do that?"

Ready to go: Carl Pavano (bruised left foot) threw on flat ground Tuesday and reported no problems, Torre said. Pavano is expected to throw a bullpen session on Thursday and is slated to pitch Sunday against the Phillies in Clearwater.

Silence, please: Mike Myers has posted fair warning to reporters who venture near his locker. A new sign above his belongings reads, "Don't ask foolish questions," with an image of a clown kicking a question mark.

It was only appropriate, then, to ask Myers -- excluding present company -- what was the most foolish question he'd ever handled?

"I gave up a home run last year, and the first question was, 'Are you disappointed you gave up the home run?'" Myers said. "And it wasn't just to me. The same reporter kept asking the question to different pitchers. Once in a while, it's OK. But not every day."

Good marks: Torre said Jackson's starting pitcher, Jeff Karstens, stood out to him, as well as Berra's second hurler, Steven Jackson.

"I just like his arm," Torre said of Jackson, who was acquired in January's Randy Johnson trade. "It looks like he's really loose and the ball comes out of his hand fairly easily."

That's a match: Torre's older brother, Frank, has learned that his children, Elizabeth and Frankie, are both candidates for the kidney transplant the 75-year-old former Major Leaguer requires.

"He was excited," said Joe Torre. "I guess it'll be a couple months until they're ready to do it."

This and that: Miguel Cairo will pick up some innings in the outfield this spring, Torre said. He appeared in the intrasquad game. ... Right-hander Humberto Sanchez (tight right forearm) will be shut down for two to four days. ... First baseman Juan Miranda felt pain in his knee while running the bases.

Quotable: "I realized that Derek throws the ball regardless of whether you're looking at him or not. I found that out quick." -- Mientkiewicz, on his first exhibition with the Yankees.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.