Yankees send Kennedy to Triple-A
Performance in Minor Leagues will dictate length of righty's stay
NEW YORK -- Ian Kennedy, one of the young pitchers the Yankees had hoped would blossom this season to help them push toward the playoffs, is being sent to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to sort out his game.
The young pitcher was both surprised and unhappy that he was demoted before the Yankees hosted the Mariners on Sunday afternoon.
Kennedy, who is scheduled start for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday, was given no timetable that might pinpoint a return date to the Majors, but Yankees management wants the 23-year-old right-hander to restore his confidence and command in order to improve on the 0-2 record and 8.37 ERA he compiled in his first six appearances (five starts) this season.
Kennedy and Phil Hughes, 21, who was 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA when he was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday with a fractured rib that will sideline him at least a month, were highly touted Draft choices whom the Yankees believed would be successful in their rotation this season.
"I guess if I can pitch under a smaller microscope down there, I guess it might put a little less pressure on me," Kennedy acknowledged. "You are on a bigger scale here. In Scranton, I'm struggling, but here, the world is going to end."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Kennedy will determine his own timetable in Scranton.
"I believe we'll see him again -- I have a lot of confidence in this young man," Girardi said. "We have seen some good things. It's the consistency that we need to see how he gets through six innings. It's putting them all together at once that will get him back here."
Kennedy, a first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft who worked his way up to the Majors with stops at each level of the Minor Leagues last season, was told he is going to Scranton in a morning meeting with Girardi.
"I was kind of surprised, because I feel like I've been throwing well," Kennedy said, "but if you don't do well and get drastic changes and drastic improvements, this is what happens.
"They made it sound like they wanted me here, but they'd rather have me improve in Scranton and get my confidence back up. I feel like the last two times, I've been doing better. It's not going to be easier because it's in Scranton. It's still baseball, it's still a game."
Kennedy was told that he could be back with the Yankees after two starts if he gets his game in order, but he could also be in Pennsylvania for 15 starts if he mopes and doesn't show improvement.
General manager Brian Cashman said that the decision to demote Kennedy and the injury to Hughes had no immediate bearing on the team's plans for hard-throwing righty Joba Chamberlain, who is pegged to move from the bullpen to the starting rotation at some point this season.
"We have a plan there, but not in May," Cashman said.
Girardi said that left-hander Kei Igawa may be recalled from Triple-A in time to pitch either next Saturday or Sunday in Detroit. Igawa was 2-3 with a 3.58 ERA in six starts at Triple-A before taking the mound for a start on Sunday.
Igawa would take Kennedy's spot in the rotation. Darrell Rasner was called up from Triple-A to start for the Yankees on Sunday in place of Hughes.
Igawa, signed to a five-year contract in November 2006, was 2-3 with a 6.25 ERA in 14 games with the Yankees last year. He spent most of the season in the Minors.
"He's been doing OK," Girardi said. "Obviously for Kei, it's important that he attacks the strike zone, because you need more than four or five innings out of your starter. When you are running them out there, you want some distance."
But as for Kennedy, the Yankees want to get him right, and they feel the best way to achieve that end is to have him at Triple-A.
"We have to manage all these assets a certain way," Cashman said, adding again that he expected Kennedy and Hughes to go through ups and downs. "Right now, the best way to manage Ian Kennedy is to send him down to Scranton."
"To me, this is just a little detour in his career," Girardi said. "He just needs to iron out a few things."
Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.