2/28/2008 10:11:00 AM

Karstens, Rasner Vie For Spot In 'Pen

Posted by Mark McCray |

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times had a great piece on Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner yesterday:

Baseball is not always fair-- certainly not to Jeff Karstens and Darrell Rasner. Before Memorial Day 2007, each was knocked from a game in the first inning by a batted ball, three Saturdays apart, on national television.

Karstens missed more than three months with a broken right leg. Rasner missed the rest of the season with a broken right index finger that needed three pins.

“It wasn’t as if they had two or three chances and they failed,” the veteran starter Mike Mussina said. “They barely got any chances, and they got hit with the ball. Things happen in strange ways sometimes. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something else happens.”

But now, the competition is on again, and Karstens and Rasner are relishing it. The Yankees have three open spots in their bullpen, and Joe Girardi hopes to take a long reliever. Both pitchers could fill the role, and both looked sharp in Wednesday’s intrasquad game.

Karstens tossed two scoreless innings, and Rasner struck out Derek Jeter and Robinson CanĂ³ in his inning.

“Jeff Karstens can pitch,” said Dave Eiland, the pitching coach. “I’ve had him for several years, and the guy can pitch. Last year, he had some bad luck early and he just never got it together again. When you’re out for so long, it’s like spring training again. We all know what he’s capable of doing.”

Karstens won a game for the Yankees in relief in September, but his overall numbers (1-4, 11.05) were forgettable. He salvaged something by winning twice for the United States in the World Cup in November in Taiwan.

“The way the season ended last year wasn’t good for me, and to go over there and throw well made me feel better,” Karstens said.

With both Karstens and Rasner healthy and ready to pitch-- the Yankees bullpen questions might finally be getting some answers.

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