Mike Mussina acknowledged there's a possibility he might miss the rest of the season with a sore right elbow, but the Yankees right-hander thinks he'll probably return this month.

Mussina, 12-8 with a 4.34 ERA, failed to make it through the fifth inning in each of his last two starts. In Seattle on Monday, he allowed four runs and six hits in three-plus innings, tying his season high with four walks.

Mussina visited Los Angeles orthopedist Lewis Yocum on Friday, and exams confirmed the tendinitis in his right elbow.

Aaron Small already was scheduled to take Mussina's turn in the rotation yesterday, and the Yankees aren't certain when Mussina, who has struggled with elbow problems since June, will be ready to return.

After New York's 12-0 loss Friday night, Mussina said he expects to be back as soon as his elbow feels less sore, hopefully within two weeks.

When asked before the game if his season might be over, Mussina said: "I don't think it's a significant amount of concern. It's a possibility, I guess, but it's not a significant amount of concern."

Mussina was 1-2 with an 8.17 ERA in five August starts, boosting his season ERA to 4.34. Manager Joe Torre also doesn't believe Mussina is out for the season.

"We'll wait until it starts feeling good and go from there," Torre said. "There's no timetable. Without him feeling good to go and pitch on a regular basis, he's not going to help the team. It's strictly up to Mike. If his elbow starts feeling well enough to do something, we'll go from there. This is the time of year you go from start to start."

The Yankees already are missing Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Chien Ming-Wang from their rotation, and Jaret Wright won't pitch at least until Sept. 10 after getting hit in the neck by a line drive Thursday in Seattle.

-- From News Services

Mike Mussina (12-8, 4.34 ERA) has tendinitis in his right elbow. He was 1-2 with an 8.17 ERA in five August starts.