NEW YORK — Adding depth to their injury-riddled pitching staff, the New York Yankees re-signed troubled right-hander Sidney Ponson to a minor league contract Wednesday.
With a history of off-the-field problems, Ponson was released Monday by the pitching-starved Texas Rangers for being a disruption to the team. He performed well on the mound, however, going 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA.
In other news, Hideki Matsui was out of the Yankees’ starting lineup Wednesday night against San Diego because of a swollen left knee.
Matsui was to be examined by a doctor and have fluid drained from the knee, general manager Brian Cashman said before the game. The designated hitter and part-time left fielder had surgery on his other knee last offseason.
“Last year was much more painful,” Matsui said through a translator.
Texas designated Ponson for assignment June 6, cutting him loose “for disrespecting teammates and club personnel,” general manager Jon Daniels said.
Ponson, who pitched briefly for the Yankees in 2006, will report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and could be called up to the majors to start one game of New York’s two-ballpark doubleheader against the Mets next Friday, Cashman said.
“He’s coming into Scranton not to help us in the International League, he’s coming in to try to pitch his way into the big leagues,” Cashman said. “I think it’s just an obvious move.”
The Yankees are missing ace Chien-Ming Wang as well as young starters Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy due to injuries.
“If I can continue to build up some inventory on an incremental basis, that’s what I need to do, I think,” Cashman said.
Ponson started June 4 for Texas against Cleveland on three days’ rest for the first time in his 11-year career, and reacted angrily when he was removed from the game after four innings.
Ponson allowed six runs, four of them unearned because of three errors by his teammates, further fueling his anger. The Indians went on to a 15-9 victory.
He was scheduled to sit for six days before his next start, which also upset him, and Rangers manager Ron Washington said Ponson came to his office to “let me know about his displeasure.”
One report said Ponson had been put on notice by Texas officials after creating a disturbance at a hotel bar in Florida during a road trip. He had been informed that no other problems would be tolerated.
Ponson has had several other problems as well, including two DUI arrests from 2004-05.
Cashman said he spoke with Ponson and others about the pitcher’s behavior with the Rangers.
“Hopefully, whatever happened in Texas stays in Texas,” Cashman said. “When Sidney was here for a short period of time, he was fine.”
The Yankees also claimed right-hander Oneli Perez off waivers from the Indians and optioned him to Double-A Trenton. The 24-year-old Perez had been pitching in Triple-A this season for Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox.
To make room for Perez on the 40-man roster, the Yankees transferred right-hander Jonathan Albaladejo (elbow) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.
Cashman joked about the acquisition of Perez because many expect the Yankees to pursue a trade for Indians ace C.C. Sabathia, last year’s AL Cy Young Award winner.
“I got a pitcher from Cleveland, like you guys have all been expecting, and we’ve optioned him to Trenton,” Cashman said. “Now we can put the Cleveland rumors to bed.”