OAKLAND -- Joe Torre was looking forward to seeing how Jose Contreras would respond on Tuesday night, as he took the mound against the Oakland A's for the second time in six days. After holding the A's to one run over six innings last Wednesday, Contreras was looking to repeat his performance. Instead, he made the shortest start of his brief career, leaving Torre to question whether or not he would send the right-hander back to the mound for his next scheduled start Sunday.
"I don't have answers. I wish I did," Torre said. "Mel (Stottlemyre) and I will spend some time (on Wednesday) trying to figure out what's best for him. What's best for him is best for us. I was really looking forward to tonight based on what we saw six days ago."
Contreras allowed seven runs (six earned), tying a career-high. He gave up four hits and walked four, striking out two. After the game, Torre didn't sound enthusiastic about giving him the ball again Sunday in Seattle.
"I don't know," Torre said when asked if Contreras would make his next start. "Mel and I are going to have to talk about it, because we have to figure out a way where he's going to get the ball in his hand and challenge people all the time. We know he's capable, because we've seen it happen."
If Contreras does not start Sunday, the Yankees could turn to left-hander Donovan Osborne, who earned the win on Tuesday with four innings of one-run relief. Another option would be to throw Kevin Brown on three days' rest, though that decision would largely be based on how Brown comes out of his start Wednesday.
"It's not a decision for me to make," Contreras said through an interpreter. "I'm going to prepare myself for my next start. If it's not my start, I'll prepare myself to do whatever job is necessary. I know that I'm going to be fine, that I'll find myself, but it's not my call to make."
Jose Contreras / P Born: 12/06/71 Height: 6'4" Weight: 230 lbs Bats: R / Throws: R
More info: Player page Stats | Splits Team Site
It was evident from the first inning that Contreras was not the same pitcher as he was last week, as he allowed three runs after facing just five batters. Eric Chavez and Scott Hatteberg both homered against Contreras, belting fastballs that were left out over the plate.
"That's the reason for my result today," Contreras said. "I tried to locate the fastball and I couldn't."
"I think it was just him," Chavez said when asked if the A's had changed their approach to Contreras. "He's got great stuff. To me, it's all in his head."
In the second inning, it looked as though Contreras may have settled down, as he got Marco Scutaro to hit into a 6-4-3 double play, erasing a walk to Damian Miller. But the third inning was a nightmare for Contreras, as he allowed a leadoff single to Mark Kotsay before walking the next three batters.
That was enough for Torre, who pulled Contreras after just two-plus innings and 60 pitches.
"I'm not sure he's as proud of his stuff as we are," Torre said. "That's what we have to address, figure out a way to get there. This certainly isn't good for him, to be out there and look as tentative as he did tonight."
"I feel very bad. It's a very bad feeling when you don't feel like you're helping your team and giving them what they need," Contreras said. "It's pretty disgraceful that I can't throw fastballs for first strikes when I want to. But I'm not discouraged. I'm going to continue to work hard."
Catcher Jorge Posada, who was credited last week with helping Contreras battle through his outing, seemed to be at a loss for words about his hurler's latest performance.
"You try to get him to stay on the same page like he did last time, but it seemed like he wasn't throwing the baseball," Posada said. "He was aiming around the zone, trying to pick the corners instead of letting the ball go. You try to encourage him, do everything possible to keep him positive, but it's tough."
"Jorge worked the same with me as he did the last outing," Contreras said. "The one who couldn't locate the pitches was me. As a matter of fact, the balls were going the opposite of where I wanted them to go. If I wanted it to go outside, it would cut in."
Both Contreras and Torre confirmed that health is not an issue, as the right-hander's between-start sessions have been very strong.
"What most bothers me is that I'm completely healthy," Contreras said. "I'm strong, I'm in great shape and at a good weight. My arm feels fine, and everything physically is perfect. I'm just not doing the job."
"His stuff is there, but it's going to take time," Posada said. "We're on his side. We can't give up on him, because he's going to be valuable for us when he figures it out."