08/31/2002 3:50 pm ET
MLBeat: Not obsessed with 40-40
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Alfonso Soriano insists that he isn't thinking about joining the 40-40 club, he's just playing the same game he always does. If he happens to become the fourth player in history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season, so be it.
Soriano hit two more home runs on Friday, giving him 34 for the season. He also stole his 36th base, putting him well within reach with 29 games remaining in the 2002 campaign.
"I'm not thinking about 40-40. I hit two homers today, maybe I'll hit six more, maybe not," Soriano said. "I don't want to think about it, because when I had 29 homers, I started thinking about 30-30 and then it took a few games to hit another."
Earlier this season, Soriano became the first second baseman in baseball history to reach the 30-30 mark, and just the second Yankees player to join the club.
"You keep shaking your head, at least I do," said manager Joe Torre. "When you look at the numbers this kid has put up, you know he's a good player. But to have 34 home runs now, that's pretty incredible. He continues to make you marvel."
Torre isn't worried about Soriano trying to swing for the fences as he gets closer to 40-40. As long as the All-Star continues to approach every at-bat with the same basic philosophy, Torre said he'll be fine.
"As long as he mixes in the base hits to center and the other way, I'll feel pretty good about it," Torre said.
WHAT A RELIEF: Mike Stanton has been a busy man, but it has had little to do with his role as a relief pitcher. Stanton is the Yankees' player rep, and as the labor negotiations have made headline news over the past weeks and months, Stanton's focus has been as much off the field as it has on.
Friday, just hours after an agreement between the players and owners was reached, Stanton was called on to pitch in the seventh inning of the Yankees-Blue Jays game at SkyDome. It was the southpaw's first appearance since Aug. 22, and he gave up three runs (one earned) in one-third of an inning.
"It has been eight days, but it felt more like four weeks," Stanton said. "I pretty much stunk tonight, but we were where we were supposed to be. We're baseball players, and we belonged on the field."
Stanton's appearance was his 415th as a Yankee, tying him with Bob Shawkey for sixth-place on the team's all-time list of games pitched.
WELCOME BACK, JUAN: The Yankees recalled outfielder Juan Rivera from Triple-A Columbus on Saturday, optioning reliever Mike Thurman to make room on the roster.
Torre said the move was made in order to make Rivera eligible for the postseason roster. Thurman would still be eligible to replace an injured pitcher.
Rivera was called up on June 5 and made two starts in right field before injuring his right knee while shagging fly balls. In 65 games for Columbus, Rivera was batting .325 with eight homers and 47 RBIs.
"He'll probably play some games," Torre said. "We just told him to stay away from any tractors or wheelbarrows."
FANTASY EDGE: Robin Ventura was scratched from the lineup on Saturday, as he was experiencing soreness in his back from playing on the artificial turf at SkyDome. Enrique Wilson got the start at third base.
Mark Feinsand covers the Yankees for MLB.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.