06/20/05 7:40 PM ET
Notes: Matsui remains at DH spot
Recovering from ankle sprain, he's not ready to play outfield
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
Matsui, who was named the American League's Player of the Week on Monday, was in the lineup as New York's designated hitter for the seventh consecutive game.
His sprained right ankle, which he injured on June 12 in St. Louis, is not completely healed, though he shagged fly balls in the outfield before Monday's game to test it.
"The pain hasn't gone away completely," said Matsui through his interpreter. "In terms of playing defense in a game, that may take a couple of days.
"I had a light workout today. In terms of going after the ball and catching it, it's not a problem," he added. "Catching the ball, doing sudden movements and throwing, that's still a bit tough."
Despite the bum ankle, Matsui hit .455 (10-for-22) with three home runs, 10 RBIs, six runs, 22 total bases and a .538 on-base percentage during his award-winning week.
"I wasn't surprised, because I was feeling pretty good in St. Louis with my hitting," he said. "I'm happy that the injury didn't affect my hitting."
When Matsui returns to the outfield, Torre will have several options with his lineup, including giving days off to Bernie Williams, Tony Womack and Gary Sheffield.
"Bernie's been playing a lot more than we wanted him to play, so it wouldn't hurt giving him a day off," Torre said. "I also want to give Sheffield a day off from time to time, so by the time [Matsui] is ready to go back to the outfield, I can probably pick out of a hat for any DH I want."
Starting point: The Yankees have won each of their last six games, marking the first time since August 1998 that they rattled off six straight wins to open a homestand.
The biggest difference for New York? The starting pitching. During the homestand, the Yankees' starters are 4-0 with a 2.78 ERA, striking out 36 while walking just six in 42 innings.
"That's been enormous. To me, everything keys off the starting pitching," Torre said. "It makes everything else seem to work better. When your starting pitchers do a good job, hitters think, 'What little thing can I do to get a run home?' as opposed to being behind three, four, five runs."
Rivera rolling: Mariano Rivera has not allowed a run in his last 16 appearances, showing the form that has made him one of the most dominant closers in history.
Rivera's season started on a rocky note, as he blew two straight saves against the Red Sox in the first series of the year. Since then, he has allowed just one run over 23 games (25 innings), converting all 16 of his save opportunities.
"He's who he's always been," Torre said. "He's dominant, he's throwing a lot of strikes, and he's throwing balls on both sides of the plate. I'm very at ease watching him."
After blowing the two saves against Boston, many people questioned whether Rivera had lost a step. With his performance since that first week, the closer has answered those questions rather emphatically.
"It's all about what you're made of," Torre said. "You don't have that role for this ballclub as long as he's had it and not have a belly full of guts. He's not going to back off anywhere."
Second start: Sean Henn, who started for the Yankees on Monday night, will be slotted into the rotation while Kevin Brown is on the disabled list, setting the rookie southpaw up for a start against the Mets on Saturday.
"I don't anticipate looking for anyone else to do that," Torre said. "He's not auditioning, he's here as a fill-in for Brownie. Even if he pitches a couple of no-hitters, it doesn't mean he's going to stay here."
Brown is eligible to return on July 1.
Good cause: Don Mattingly will be honored at a benefit for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and his Youth First! Foundation on Wednesday night. The event, titled "A Celebration of the Career of Don Mattingly," will take place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan.
The fundraiser, set for 6:30 p.m. ET, will be hosted by Yankees broadcasters Michael Kay and John Sterling. Tickets to the benefit are priced at $350 per person, including cocktail hour and dinner, and are available by calling (914) 332-4772.
The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF) is the leading charitable funder and advocate of type 1 (juvenile) diabetes research worldwide. Youth First! has set out the mission to reduce substance abuse by providing research-proven prevention and early intervention programs for area youth and their families.
On deck: The Yankees and Devil Rays play the second game of their four-game set on Tuesday, as Randy Johnson looks to follow up his complete-game victory from last Thursday with another gem. Hideo Nomo, who won his 200th game -- split between Japan and the Major Leagues -- in his last start, takes the mound for Tampa Bay.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.