04/04/07 2:30 PM ET
Notes: Damon remains hobbled
Initial cramp diagnosis updated to calf strain; severity unknown
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Damon left the Yankees' Opening Day game after five innings on Monday, suffering from what were originally described as cramps. General manager Brian Cashman amended that diagnosis Wednesday to reflect a calf strain of an unknown degree.
"It's more than cramps," Damon said. "It felt like cramps [Monday], but I've got to go in and figure it out, [and] make sure it's something that could heal as I continue playing.
"I don't want to jump to any conclusions, but I've really got to get it taken care of right now."
Damon spent about an hour on the trainer's table on Wednesday before the scheduled afternoon contest was washed out. The Yankees did not plan to send Damon for tests on Wednesday, though Cashman said it would be a possibility Thursday if Damon does not show improvement.
"The fact that he's still sore today would eliminate the word 'cramp,'" Cashman said. "He's probably got a little strain we're dealing with now."
Yankees manager Joe Torre did not want to look ahead to the worst-case scenario of a disabled-list stint, hoping that one more day of rest could cure what ails Damon.
"I think we'll know more in the next couple of days," Torre said. "He was in here [Tuesday], and it was pretty sore. Hopefully, it's nothing more than a sore calf. Obviously, if it doesn't start getting better, then you become more concerned."
In a pinch, the Yankees would plan to get by with Miguel Cairo as an emergency outfielder behind reserve Melky Cabrera, who would have started in center field Wednesday. They could also promote a Triple-A outfielder such as Kevin Reese or Kevin Thompson if a trip to the DL is necessary.
Both Reese and Thompson have brief Major League experience and were in Spring Training with the Yankees, vying to be the fifth outfielder that the club eventually decided would have been extraneous, favoring a 12th pitcher on the Opening Day roster instead.
"Right now, we're not in that situation," Cashman said.
Wang progressing: Injured ace Chien-Ming Wang continues to rehab his strained right hamstring at the Yankees' Legends Field complex in Tampa, Fla., and appears to be ahead of schedule.
Torre said that Wang could throw in simulated-game conditions by the weekend. He remains on track for a projected late-April return to the Yankees' Major League rotation, with a yet-unspecified number of Minor League rehab starts along the way.
"Everything's good; he's been doing all his drills," Torre said. "Right now, we're very pleased with where he is."
A-Rod joins Winfield: Alex Rodriguez's two-run homer in the eighth inning on Monday tied him with former Yankees outfielder Dave Winfield for 28th place on baseball's all-time home runs list. Yankees bullpen catcher Mike Borzello caught the blast -- the 465th of Rodriguez's career -- in the bullpen after the ball sailed over the left-center-field fence.
Rodriguez said he doesn't give much thought to the milestone, but the third baseman added that he enjoyed watching the Hall of Famer play.
"I love Dave Winfield," he said.
The shot came off of Devil Rays right-hander Juan Salas and left Rodriguez 35 homers shy of the 500-homer plateau. Even so, A-Rod said that he isn't concerned with reaching the milestone this season, though it would certainly appear within reach.
"It's too far away right now," he said.
Villone returns: Left-handed reliever Ron Villone signed a Minor League contract with the Yankees on Wednesday, returning to the organization after a few days away to weigh his options. Villone will report to the Yankees' Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre club.
Villone, 37, was a non-roster invitee to the Yankees' Spring Training camp and had been considered a candidate to be a second left-handed reliever behind Mike Myers. That spot went to Sean Henn instead, as Villone struggled with his command and posted a 14.40 ERA in nine spring appearances.
"Ronnie was an important member of this team last year," Cashman said. "We saw the arm strength there this spring, without a doubt. I believe he's still got a lot to give."
Just a thought: Torre said that the Yankees flirted for a short period of time with the idea of switching Wednesday's contest to a night game, but an uncertain weather forecast nixed the idea.
"That would have been a nightmare for the fans," Torre said. "That's the first thing that was considered -- the inconvenience for the fans."
The rainout pushed back the anticipated Bronx return of left-hander Andy Pettitte, who was to start on Wednesday against the Devil Rays' Jae Seo.
That pitching matchup will now be bumped back to Thursday's series finale, with a makeup date for Wednesday's rainout yet unscheduled. Torre said he didn't believe that Pettitte would have any problems moving back one day to Thursday evening.
"Even though all pitchers are creatures of habit, Andy's been pretty good about being able to make adjustments," Torre said.
The Yankees' rotation realigns following the rainout to pitch Mike Mussina on Friday on what will be seven days' rest, with Kei Igawa and fifth starter Darrell Rasner falling into line for the weekend series against the Orioles.
Mussina was not elated following the game's cancellation, having thrown for about 10 minutes across the soggy Yankee Stadium outfield in preparation for what he thought would be an appearance against Tampa Bay.
"There's no positive about it, but you just deal with it," Mussina said.
Steinbrenner mourns Robinson: Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner released a statement on Wednesday mourning the passing of legendary college football coach Eddie Robinson.
Robinson, who was 88, died Tuesday in Ruston, La. Robinson spent 55 seasons at Grambling State University in Louisiana and was the first college football coach to win more than 400 games.
"He was a legendary coach, a great teacher and an extraordinary man," Steinbrenner said. "I have known him for many years -- we were terrific friends, and I lament his loss."
Coming up: After a one-day delay, Pettitte will make his celebrated Bronx return official on Thursday, taking on the Devil Rays in a 7:05 p.m. ET start. Seo will counter for Tampa Bay.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Caleb Breakey, an associate reporter for MLB.com, contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.