Astros, Yankees play to 5-5 tie

March 2, 2009 5:17:22 PM PST
Chien-Ming Wang made his first appearance since partially tearing a tendon in his foot running the bases against Houston in June, pitching two scoreless innings for the Yankees in a 5-5 tie with the Astros on Monday. "I feel good," Wang said. "Nothing wrong."

On Tuesday, the Yankees will face their captain, Derek Jeter, when they play Team USA in a World Baseball Classic warmup at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

"We're going to drill him," Yankees catcher Jorge Posada joked. "It's the first time we've played against each other. It will be fun."

Wang was tested when he chased down a bunt in front of home plate and when he ran to cover the base on a groundball to the first baseman.

He threw 23 pitches, 12 for strikes, and allowed two singles, which both came on his trademark pitch, the sinker.

"A few times the sinker was not sinking down enough," Wang said. "It was flat. That's normal for this time of year."

Wang said he felt "about the same" as he has in previous seasons, including when he won 19 games in both 2006 and 2007.

"I think when you have an injury like that, you watch how they push off and he looked the same as before he got hurt," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "That means he's comfortable with the way he feels. If he's comfortable with the way he feels, we're obviously a lot more comfortable."

Wang fared a lot better than the Astros' starter Mike Hampton.

Hampton allowed four runs and six hits in two innings. He gave up extra-base hits to Melky Cabrera and Angel Berroa, and didn't work a scheduled third inning because of a high pitch count.

Hampton, the veteran who has struggled with injuries and inconsistent play since 2000, is hoping a return to the Astros will help him return to that form that made him a star in Houston.

In 1999, Hampton's last season with the Astros, he won 22 games with a 2.90 ERA. In the five seasons from 1995-99, Hampton won 67 games and was one of the National League's top pitchers.

"The results weren't what I wanted, but for the most part I used both sides of the plate and threw all my pitches," Hampton said. "The most important thing is that I felt good."

Lance Berkman had a single and a walk and outfielder Carlos Lee got his first hit of the spring with a double off the right-field wall.

"We finally saw a little offense today," Houston manager Cecil Cooper said. "Lance looked real smooth, and it was nice to see Carlos get a good swing on it."

Posada, scratched from the Yankees' starting lineup Saturday because of minor soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder, went 1-for-3, including an RBI single, as the designated hitter. He also threw at 100 feet before the game.

"It's getting better," Posada said. "I felt good today. Now it's a matter of strengthening."

The Yankees expect Posada to play behind the plate for the first time in spring training around March 15.

Notes: Astros relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins accepted an invitation to play for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic on Monday. The right-hander is replacing Joe Nathan of the Minnesota Twins. Hawkins joins Houston teammate Roy Oswalt on the US pitching staff. ... Houston pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who strained a muscle on Friday against Pittsburgh, is expected to throw a light bullpen session on Tuesday. Rodriguez will miss at least two starts. ... Yankees lefty CC Sabathia threw 28 pitches in two innings of a simulated game in Tampa.

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