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Saturday, September 4, 2004
Brown injured punching clubhouse wall

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown will miss at least three weeks -- and possibly the rest of the season -- after breaking his left hand when he punched a wall in the clubhouse.

Brown was examined Saturday at Yankee Stadium by team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon and hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser. The pitcher will have surgery Sunday to insert a pin into his hand.

"We're hopeful we can get him back in a few weeks," manager Joe Torre said. "A lot of it will depend on the healing and the comfort. We don't worry about the comfort too much. I think Brownie was hoping he could just tape it up and go. That's not what's going to happen."

Frustrated by an injury-filled season, Brown made it much worse Friday night when he broke two bones in his non-pitching hand by punching a clubhouse wall during the sixth inning of New York's 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

That was the end of his outing.

One of the fractures extends into his wrist, requiring the pin. Now the best-case scenario for Brown (10-4) and the Yankees is that he misses three weeks -- though he could be done for the year.

"For certain, I'm happy it's the left and not the right. The thing that bothers me is that he thought enough to throw the left and not the right. I wish he would have thought a little more on that subject," Torre said. "He still has to field his position, catch the ball and do all those things."

Brown should be able to keep his arm in shape while he recovers.

"He'll be able to throw. Somebody can hand him the ball. He'll be doing all the pitching stuff," Torre said.

Already short on starting pitching, the Yankees plan to call up a minor leaguer to start in Brown's place Wednesday night against Tampa Bay. One possibility is left-hander Brad Halsey, who went 1-2 with a 7.23 ERA in four starts with New York earlier this season.

Brown's temper tantrum left the Yankees without one of their best pitchers in the heat of a pennant race. New York leads the AL East by just 2½ games over the Red Sox after a 7-0 loss to Baltimore on Saturday. The Yankees led by a season-high 10½ games on Aug. 15.

"Stupidity," Brown said Friday night, adding that he wanted to apologize to his teammates. He wasn't available for comment Saturday.

The Yankees aren't happy with him. Torre and general manager Brian Cashman were visibly annoyed Friday night. Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada have declined to share their thoughts about how Brown hurt himself.

"I think we've all been frustrated, we've all been upset at one time or another, and we've probably said some things that we wish we hadn't said. But to physically do something to injure yourself? I can't relate to that. I've seen guys do it, but I can't relate to it," teammate Mike Mussina said.

Cashman said the 39-year-old Brown could be disciplined or fined. Torre said he spoke to the pitcher and expressed his disappointment.

"It's obviously a big blow for our team. We have to go on and find a way to win games," Rodriguez said.

After the game, the Yankees began reviewing Brown's contract to determine whether a self-inflicted injury could void the guarantee language, one baseball official said on the condition of anonymity. Brown is earning $15 million this season and is due $15 million next year, the final season of his $105 million, seven-year deal.