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Notes: El Duque making progress
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10/06/2004 6:52 PM ET
Notes: El Duque making progress
Hernandez takes positive step toward Game 4 start
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Orlando Hernandez tested his tired right shoulder on a mound Wednesday for the first time since his last start on Friday night in Toronto. (J.P. Moczulski/AP)

NEW YORK -- Orlando Hernandez took a positive step toward potentially taking the ball for Game 4, as the right-hander threw a bullpen session before Wednesday's Game 2.

Hernandez threw about 50 pitches, testing his tired right shoulder on a mound for the first time since his last start on Friday night in Toronto. He said that while his arm felt better than it did over the past few days, he was told by pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre that he would not get the start in Game 3.

"I threw better and I feel better. But I don't think I'll feel good for Friday," Hernandez said. "I'll wait for tomorrow, and tomorrow Joe [Torre] will make a decision for the fourth game. They saw me throw and they made the decision."

"Duque threw in the bullpen today, which to me, was good news," Torre said. "Game 4, we'll wait and see."

If Hernandez can't go in Game 4, Javier Vazquez would get the call. Kevin Brown will start Game 3 on Friday.

Hernandez said that he was apprehensive at the start of his bullpen session, but after throwing a handful of pitches, his arm loosened up.

"Initially, I was scared, but as the bullpen went on, I got loose. I was able to let it go," Hernandez said. "I'm happier that I'm progressing and getting where I want to get. I want to help the team, not on the bench but on the mound."

Now, Hernandez must wait until Thursday to see how his arm responds to its latest test. If he feels good, he could try throwing off a mound again, though he said that he does not need to throw another bullpen if he is to start on Saturday.

"I'll wait for tomorrow," Hernandez said. "Every day, I've felt better. I'm waiting, and everybody is waiting."

"If he wants to go out there, he's had enough experience," Torre said. "Wanting to do it and being able to do it is the difference between playing hurt and playing not-so-smart. Playing hurt and being able to do what you do is one thing, like what Sheffield has done, but to go out there and not be armed -- literally speaking -- with your best stuff, it's tough to try to trick people."

Hernandez allowed five runs on five hits and three walks in his last start on Oct. 1 in Toronto, as he was unable to really let his fastball go with any juice on it. He relied on breaking balls and off-speed pitches, but he lasted just three innings, taking his second loss of the season.

"He just wasn't comfortable," Torre said. "We'll see. We carried 11 pitchers for the express reason of giving him an opportunity to get it back and being able to help us. I'm sure he's going to be a consideration if the reports are good."

Hideki helper: Hideki Matsui was back in the cleanup spot for Game 2, as Torre moved the left fielder up from the No. 6 spot against right-hander Brad Radke.

Matsui batted sixth on Tuesday, going 2-for-4, both hits coming against Johan Santana. Matsui is 6-for-19 in ALDS play over the past two seasons, a .316 average.

The starting lineup remained the same, starting with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield in front of Matsui. After that, everyone else slid down one spot, as Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Ruben Sierra, John Olerud and Miguel Cairo rounded out the batting order.

Sierra got the start as the DH against Radke, even though Kenny Lofton's career numbers (18-for-52, .346) are better than Sierra's (6-for-20, .300). Sierra went 0-for-4 in Game 1.

"I considered Lofton, but Ruben has good numbers against him, too," Torre said. "He doesn't have as many at-bats, they both have a home run, but it's one of those things. I talked to Kenny, because I know he's curious, but when you have many capable people, you have to make a decision. Even though Ruben didn't get any hits, I liked the way he swung the bat last night."

Shouldering the load? Gary Sheffield went 0-for-2 with two walks in Game 1, and his ailing left shoulder appears to be giving him more trouble with each day. After receiving a pair of cortisone shots on Sept. 20, Sheffield went just 6-for-35 (.171) with one home run during the remainder of the regular season.

"It looks like his swings are fine," Torre said. "He may be swinging too hard, but I don't think he's hindered any more now than he was when he was hitting line drives and home runs."

Ready relief: Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon each threw a scoreless inning in Game 1, but Torre said that he won't hesitate to use either pitcher for more than an inning in Game 2.

"Mel and I discussed that before we even did it," Torre said. "With the off day on Thursday and the fact that they didn't work much over the weekend, if it was going to affect our using them tonight, we wouldn't have done that. It was only 2-0 and we wanted to keep it there, but I don't think it will affect them tonight."

Gordon threw just 11 pitches in the eighth inning on Tuesday, while Rivera needed 14 to get through the ninth. Neither pitcher allowed a baserunner.

No requests: General manager Brian Cashman said that, as of Wednesday, he had not been contacted by any other team with a request to interview any of the Yankees coaches for a vacant managerial position. When asked if he would have a problem with his coaches interviewing during the postseason, Cashman said no.

"Obviously I always run it by George, but my philosophy is the same," Cashman said. "I wouldn't want to prevent any of our guys from being in position to get a job."

Last year, the Yankees lost Lee Mazzilli to the Orioles when the former first-base coach was hired to manage Baltimore.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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