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Sunday, July 1, 2007
Struggling reliever Proctor says postgame bonfire was joke

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Yankees reliever Scott Proctor has been struggling to put fires out of late, so he ignited one himself.

Proctor carried his personal game equipment out to the field long after Saturday's 7-0 loss to Oakland and set it ablaze on the gravel outside the New York dugout, leading to tabloid headlines of "Proctor All Fired Up" and "Proctor in shambles, burns glove."

Scott Proctor

Proctor

"It was all just a joke, man, I mean really," Proctor said. "Just something I've done in the past."

Proctor, who said he couldn't remember if the fire worked when he was struggling in Triple-A, pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in the Yankees' 11-5 loss to Oakland on Sunday. He got a mixed reaction from the Yankee Stadium crowd when he entered in the eighth inning.

He had allowed six runs and 10 hits in his previous 4 1/3 innings.

"If I go out there and start throwing shutout innings, then I'll feel a lot better," Proctor said before Sunday's game. "Until then, got to go out and prove yourself on the field. I wish it was that easy, just burn stuff and start turning things around."

Proctor's postgame bonfire was the latest dustup for a team frustrated by its inconsistent play.

Kyle Farnsworth, also one of manager Joe Torre's favorite late-inning relievers, was visibly upset after leaving two outings last week. Catcher Jorge Posada questioned the team's effort after New York managed just one hit Saturday.

"I think Jorge didn't corner the market, or Farnsworth hasn't cornered the market on the frustration," Torre said Sunday. "Proctor, I think he's still scorched by that game the other day, in Baltimore."

Proctor gave up Barry Bonds' 749th career homer in a win over San Francisco on June 22 and was charged with the loss in the Giants' 13-inning victory the next day. He issued a bases-loaded walk to Ramon Hernandez that forced in the winning run in the Orioles' 3-2 win Tuesday.

After allowing three runs and three hits in one-third of an inning Saturday, Proctor had seen enough. The 30-year-old right-hander said he didn't destroy any team-owned stuff and was hoping he didn't get a hard comebacker before he had a chance to break in his new glove.

Torre didn't sound like he had any plans to discipline him.

"It's his glove," Torre said. "I don't know where he got the matches. That may be ours, I don't know."

Proctor isn't the only one struggling on the Yankees, who have dropped nine of 11 after an 11-1 stretch. At 37-41, this is the latest New York has been under .500 in a season since Sept. 5, 1995, when it was 60-61.

The Yankees have scored just 11 runs in their last six completed games. They led 8-6 Thursday night in Baltimore when that game was suspended due to rain.

Torre tinkered with his lineup for Sunday's game, moving Robinson Cano into the third spot and Bobby Abreu down to seventh. Cano went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts but Abreu drove in two runs.

"I didn't do my job," said Cano, in a 3-for-15 skid. "That's the thing."

New York also purchased the contract of right-hander Edwar Ramirez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned infielder Chris Basak to its top farm club.

"Right now, we need a well-pitched ballgame and we need to hit and we need to do both on the same day a few times," Torre said. "Right now, we don't feel too good about ourselves."