SEATTLE -- Just when the Yankees' rotation looked as solid as it has all season, New York took a minor blow on Tuesday.
Mike Mussina will miss his next start, as the right-hander is experiencing mild inflammation in the medial side of his right elbow.
The pitcher said the injury is essentially a form of tendinitis, but he stressed that it has nothing to do with the strained elbow that sidelined him for almost two months in 2004.
"This has been messing with me on and off for a good part of the summer," said Mussina, who has felt it since June. "It hasn't bothered me to the point where I can't pitch, but those guys feel that maybe the last couple of games, it's been bugging me more than I'm letting on.
"We have some help coming in a couple of days, and we have guys who can go out and pitch that are pitching well," he added. "We'll take a game, come back in 10 days and hopefully it will be behind us."
The "guys" that Mussina referred to are manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre. Torre said the injury was "nothing dangerous," but he saw something while watching Mussina walk four batters on Monday night to know that something wasn't right.
"His stuff has been good, but last night, it was apparent that something was going on," Torre said. "I've never seen him that wild."
Mussina said that although the injury has been there for more than two months, he has pitched through it without any problems.
"After a while, even annoying things can eat at you more if they keep bothering you," Mussina said. "Sometimes it messes with your mind or your mechanics, whatever. I've had it bug me when I've thrown the ball well in games."
The plan is for Mussina to shut it down for a day or two, then resume his normal throwing program. Aaron Small, who threw four scoreless innings in relief of Mussina on Monday to get the win, will likely get the start in Mussina's place on Saturday in Oakland.
"It makes sense," Torre said of Small. "But between now and then, you never know what's going to happen."
"I know I could still be pitching, and I want to be out there," Mussina said. "But this is an important part of the season. I want it to go away and not be an issue, so this may be the best idea."
Mussina seemed confident that one start would be plenty of time to take care of the problem, putting him in line to take the mound again on Sept. 8 against Tampa Bay or Sept. 9 against Boston.
"I would believe that one day should be good. At 36, as much as I've been pitching, you don't always feel 100 percent. I'm not concerned about it being a big deal over a long period of time.
"Hopefully it will just be a couple of days off, I'll miss one start and then get back into the routine again. It should be OK."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
My team is going down the tubes fast!