10/24/2003 3:25 AM ET
Knee sidelines Giambi in Game 5
MIAMI -- Jason Giambi said that sitting out Game 5 of the World Series was one of the most difficult things he has ever had to do, but the Yankees' slugger simply didn't feel he could get the job done playing the field on his balky left knee.
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
After leaving Alfonso Soriano out of the Yankees' starting lineup, manager Joe Torre made another late change on Thursday, scratching Giambi as the first baseman due to an aggravated left knee.
Nick Johnson was inserted into the lineup in Giambi's place, playing first base and batting sixth.
"It was the hardest thing in the world to not be out there," Giambi said. "But I would have felt worse by not making a play that ended up hurting us."
Giambi did his best to impact the game off the bench, swatting a pinch-hit, solo home run to spark a Yankees rally in the ninth inning. New York plated two runs in the inning, but fell short in a 6-4 loss to Florida.
"We all knew I could hit. That wasn't the problem," Giambi said. "I just didn't want to hurt us defensively. I'll be able to DH now, get back in the lineup."
Torre had already moved Giambi down from the No. 3 spot to sixth for Game 5, but after watching Giambi take grounders in the field during batting practice, Torre decided to bench the ailing Giambi, who has suffered from a sore knee for much of the season.
"I saw him limping around, so I asked him about his knee," Torre said before the game. "He hemmed and hawed a little bit, and I said, 'What do you say we just play Nick tonight?' That was basically the extent of it. I'm the one that instigated the whole thing."
Giambi was hitting .214 (3-for-14) with no RBIs in the first four games of the series, batting just .232 for the entire postseason with three homers and five RBIs.
Giambi was examined by Yankees team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon before Thursday's game. The diagnosis was soreness of the inflammation in the knee that has plagued Giambi all year. Giambi will be evaluated after the season, and surgery is likely for the 32-year-old.
"It's a day-to-day thing," said general manager Brian Cashman. "It's obviously gotten worse, and Joe didn't like the way he was moving around."
Johnson was hitting .204 in the postseason (10-for-49), but he had three of those hits in Game 2 against the Marlins. Before the series shifted to Pro Player Stadium, where National League rules apply and no DH is used, Johnson had started all 13 playoff games at first base.
"Nick Johnson is no slouch, he's an everyday player," Torre said. "We're getting our regular first baseman in there."
Johnson went 2-for-4 with a run scored in Game 5.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.