Hernandez may sub for sore Mussina

NEW YORK -- Orlando Hernandez probably will return to the
New York Yankees sooner than expected.

There is a strong possibility El Duque will start for the
Yankees on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in place of
Mike Mussina, a team official said, speaking on the condition of

Mussina still felt some soreness Saturday after pitching on
three days' rest Tuesday night against the Detroit Tigers. It was
Mussina's idea to go on short rest so he could make two starts
before the All-Star game and avoid a long layoff before his first
start after the break.

But the move may have backfired. Now Mussina (9-6) might not be
able to make that second start, ensuring a lengthy layoff and
creating an opportunity for El Duque.

Hernandez was scratched from his scheduled rehabilitation start
Saturday for Triple-A Columbus, and the Yankees made travel plans
for him to come to New York. If he arrives in time and feels ready
to pitch, he probably would start Sunday, the official said.

Hernandez, believed to be 38, had been expected to make at least
one more rehabilitation start for Columbus before the Yankees
considered whether to activate him. Even if it's just for one day,
he would join a struggling rotation that includes fellow Cuban
Jose Contreras.

It would be Hernandez's first major league appearance since
2002. He spent last year on Montreal's disabled list, missing the
entire season after getting hurt in spring training.

The right-hander had shoulder surgery in May 2003 to repair a
small tear in his rotator cuff. He returned to the Yankees in
March, signing a $500,000, one-year contract.

After defecting from Cuba, Hernandez joined the Yankees for the
1998 season and helped them to three straight World Series titles
and four AL pennants in five years. He was 53-38 with a 4.04 ERA in
the regular season and 9-3 with a 2.51 ERA in the postseason,
winning the 1999 AL championship series MVP Award.

New York traded him to the White Sox on Jan. 15, 2003, for
right-handers Antonio Osuna and Delvis Lantigua. Chicago then dealt
him the same day to the Expos with right-hander Rocky Biddle and
outfielder Jeff Liefer for right-hander Bartolo Colon and infielder
Jorge Nunez.