For the past six weeks, mechanically sound pitches were not coming out of Derek Lowe’s right arm. Instead, as he describes it, it was comparable to a common side dish found at the dinner table.
“It was coming out like mashed potatoes for six weeks,” Lowe said before suiting up for his first game as a Yankee.
It was during those six weeks that Lowe was designated for assignment by Cleveland and eventually signed with the Yankees to be their long man in the bullpen. He was also in contact with Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco and said he was not going to return if he didn’t feel his mechanics were improved.
Lowe spent part of his 10 days as a free agent working in Fort Myers, Fla. with longtime personal trainer Chris Correnti.
“I literally said, ‘I need a repeatable delivery,’” Lowe said. “There were some obvious glaring things I even knew that I was doing, that [former pitching coach] Scott Radinsky knew I was doing, but the side sessions weren’t long enough to fix it. [Being DFA’d] was the worst thing that could have happened because in 20 years I’ve never been watching the game. But you can’t feel sorry for yourself. You have to get back to work. It was great to be able to spend two or three hours really understanding what you were doing wrong and how to correct it.”
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When the Yankees needed a pitcher after placing CC Sabathia on the DL, Lowe said it took him about 10 minutes to join the team he beat in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS for the Red Sox.
“I was flying here and thinking this reminds me of 2004,” Lowe said. “It was my worst season I’ve ever had. I got taken out of the rotation and I was the 10th guy on the team. Then I was able to pitch Game 7 and Game 4 of the World Series.”
Rivera throws on flat ground
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera threw on flat ground under the watchful eye of pitching coach Larry Rothchild before yesterday’s game. Rivera, who has been out since tearing his ACL on May 3, has yet to definitively rule himself out for 2012.
But despite a good report from Rothchild, manager Joe Girardi said he was 99.9 percent certain his 40-year-old closer was not returning.
“When you are a baseball player, when you can’t do the things you are used to doing, as soon as you can do them, you try them,” Girardi said.
In 17 games as a Yankee, Ichiro has hit in three different lineup spots. He has batted eighth 14 times, seventh twice and led off once.
Yesterday he added a fourth, as Girardi decided to slot him into the ninth spot. Ichiro has appeared there just four games in his career for a total of five at-bats, but Girardi said he sees the speed element similar to what the Yankees had when Brett Gardner batted ninth.
“We’re just trying to break up the lefties,” Girardi said. “It’s not easy when four out of the last five guys are left-handed. It’s just the way we chose to do it.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.