After rash of injuries, Yankees fire conditioning coach

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The New York Yankees fired their strength and conditioning coach Wednesday following a rash of injuries to the pitching staff that has contributed to the team's poor start.

Marty Miller was hired by the Yankees in the offseason as director of performance enhancement.

"It got to the point where the perception is there's a problem here," general manager Brian Cashman said.

Miller, 34, will be replaced on an interim basis by Dana Cavalea, who was Miller's assistant.

"The knowledge that Marty had was certainly impressive," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Now, does that mean that because you know a lot about the body, it relates to baseball? That's what we don't know."

The latest injury to New York's depleted staff came Tuesday night, when Phil Hughes carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his second major league start before a hamstring injury knocked him out of the game against the Texas Rangers. The 20-year-old right-hander, considered one of the top prospects in baseball, is expected to miss four to six weeks.

Hughes was called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill a spot in the team's injury-ravaged rotation. Mike Mussina (hamstring) and Carl Pavano (forearm) were placed on the 15-day DL on April 15 (Mussina will come off the DL Thursday and start against the Rangers) and Jeff Karstens was placed on the DL on April 29 after breaking his fibula in the first inning against Boston. Chien-Ming Wang also missed the first three weeks of the season with a hamstring injury; despite breaking a nail on his pitching hand in his most recent start, he hopes to start Saturday.

Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, bothered by a bad back and sore legs much of the season, said Miller introduced conditioning tools that some players weren't accustomed to using -- but also agreed to bring in equipment that players requested.

Still, Damon thought it was unusual that so many pitchers succumbed to hamstring problems, an injury more common for position players.

"I think when you get a number of pitchers go down with the same problem, it opens up eyes and it makes you start thinking there might need to be a change," Damon said.

The Yankees entered Wednesday night's game at Texas with a 10-14 record that left them in last place in the AL East. The slow start roused owner George Steinbrenner to issue a statement Monday rebuking the $195 million team for its record but also supporting Cashman and manager Joe Torre.