Yanks' latest injury likely ensures trade

AL Notebook

Baseball Week


Ashoulder injury to New York Yankees rookie pitcher Chien-Ming Wang can be looked at two ways in baseball circles.

1. It's a devastating blow for a team that already has three starters on the disabled list.

2. It's bad news for contending teams, because now the Yankees will be a huge factor in any trade talks involving starting pitching.

Wang, who may have torn his rotator cuff and is possibly out for the rest of the season, had the best ERA of any Yankees starter this season. He was 6-3 with a 3.89 ERA in 13 games.

He helped keep the Yankees afloat while Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina have been inconsistent and Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright have been hurt.

The Yankees will try to fill Wang's spot with Al Leiter, acquired yesterday, and recent pickup Tim Redding, but it's obvious they need a major upgrade.

The problem for the Yankees is that they have little depth in their minor league system and their most attractive trade chip, second baseman Robinson Cano, has filled a weakness for the Bronx Bombers.

But these are the Yankees of George Steinbrenner and Brian Cashman. They'll find a creative way to land a big fish in the next two weeks.

"We need to get our starting pitching back on line," Cashman said when asked about his roster plans.

That likely means a trade - and soon.

Liking their squad

Maybe the only contender that isn't salivating for pitching at the non-waiver trade deadline is the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They are second in the league in ERA.

They could deal for a bat to put at designated hitter, but with Steve Finley and Orlando Cabrera coming back from injuries, general manager Bill Stoneman has no pressing needs that warrant dealing one of his highly regarded prospects.

"I don't think [Stoneman] believes in adding any short-term rental-type of players," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Hudson won't mind

Oakland Athletics starter Rich Harden was home in British Columbia during the All-Star break and needed to throw a side session. But the only baseball he could find was his dad's autographed Tim Hudson ball, which Harden got when the two were A's teammates.

Such a ball usually sells for $90, but Harden figured he could get another one from Hudson, who is now with the Atlanta Braves. So Harden tossed around the collectible. He may use that ball before every start. In his first game after the break, Harden was five outs away from a perfect game in a two-hit shutout against the Texas Rangers.

Quick hits

Some Seattle Mariners weren't happy when second baseman Bret Boone was designated for assignment, but they thought the front office showed class by trading him to the Minnesota Twins, the team he wanted to go to. ... To make room for rookie infielder Aaron Hill when third baseman Corey Koskie returns from the disabled list this month, the Toronto Blue Jays could trade first baseman Eric Hinske or second baseman Orlando Hudson. ... The Detroit Tigers might trade former Oriole Jason Johnson. He could bring a decent haul in this pitching-mad market.

League notebooks are compiled from interviews, wire services and reports from other newspapers.

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