06/26/07 8:00 PM ET
Notes: Damon back in lineup
Veteran raves about doctor's work on abdominal injury
By Pete Kerzel / Special to MLB.com
Damon was seen in Orlando, Fla., by chiropractor Dr. Gerry Mattia, who repositioned four out of whack right-side ribs that had been bothering Damon for about 10 days. Damon met the Yankees in Baltimore, did some afternoon drills, swung a bat and pronounced himself fit to contribute.
"It's amazing," Damon said of Mattia's treatment. "Definitely have to put him on the payroll. The guy's magic."
Damon said the chiropractor knew immediately what was causing his abdominal discomfort. One look at Damon's gait and how he was hanging his right arm prompted Mattia to pop the player on a table and perform some hands-on work.
"I feel like a different person. ... It feels a little sore there, but it feels more like a bruise right now," said Damon, who might have gone on the disabled list had he not responded to the treatment.
Damon, who snapped out of an 0-for-10 skid with a pinch-hit single on Sunday in San Francisco, said the injury is common in athletes who swing and dive.
"A lot of people don't realize what it is until it gets a bit worse," said Damon. "It was like, 'Wow! How come I'm feeling so much better?'"
Damon was further convinced when he hit in the batting cage before Tuesday's game.
"He went out there early today, ran a little bit and felt a lot better. ... He seemed a lot more upbeat out there than he's felt the last week," Yankees manager Joe Torre said of Damon. "Today it was all about how he felt."
Because the Yankees have started a nine-game road trip with a 1-5 record, Damon felt compelled to start pulling his weight -- even if he acknowledges that he's not completely pain-free. He's eager to play the field, too, whether it's as a versatile outfielder or a part-time first baseman.
"The team is better putting me in there even if I'm not 100 percent," he said.
Abreu bats eighth: Right fielder Bobby Abreu, 3-for-24 on the road trip, was dropped to the eighth spot in the batting order Tuesday. It's the lowest position in which Abreu has hit this year, and Torre pointed out that the arrangement was only temporary.
"Just to get him out of the three-hole and try to separate the left-handers," Torre said. "It's a little different in our league than it would be in the National League. Hitting eighth in the National League, with the pitcher hitting behind you, is tougher."
Torre said he met with Abreu -- who is still hitting .352 (27-for-83) with two homers and 13 RBIs in June -- before posting the lineup and assured the slugger that the lineup change did not represent a demotion or loss of confidence.
"I told him, 'Get comfortable again and we'll put you right back there,'" Torre said. "He's feeling for it, and [I] decided to shake it up a little bit and that's where he wound up."
Torre seemed sure of what's led to Abreu's slump.
"Lack of patience, he's pretty much on his heels, swinging at a lot of pitches," Torre explained. "It looks like 'I don't want the pitcher to get ahead of me.' That's not what he may feel like, but that's what it looks like -- just more anxious than he normally shows."
Milestone ahead: Right-hander Roger Clemens, who will go for his 350th career victory against the Orioles on Wednesday night, was not with the club Tuesday. Torre said Clemens was given permission to attend the funeral of a friend's mother in Connecticut and would rejoin the Yankees in Baltimore on Wednesday.
Clemens, 44, is one of six pitchers 40 or older scheduled to start Wednesday. The other 40-somethings taking the mound are Detroit's Kenny Rogers, San Diego's Greg Maddux, the New York Mets' Tom Glavine, Atlanta's John Smoltz and Houston's Woody Williams.
"The hunger is still there," Torre said when asked why Clemens has been able to carry his success past the point where most pitchers have retired. "The enjoyment of the game is still there. The need for competition is still there."
Happy birthday: Shortstop Derek Jeter celebrated his 33rd birthday on Tuesday, and Torre acknowledged that he's been around the Yankees captain for so long, it's hard to imagine that he's only in his early 30s.
"Knowing him as a 20-year-old when we first met and knowing what he has done on a consistent basis every year, he never gets tired of doing what he does," Torre said. "I admire that a great deal. Fortunately, I have a lot of guys like that."
Jeter singled to center in his first at-bat on Tuesday.
Power outage: The Yankees have homered only twice on the road trip, but Torre doesn't want them swinging for the fences. That, he pointed out, is not the way to emerge from a power slump.
"When you're thinking home run, you lose something -- and that's the contact ability," he said.
Quotable: "Who have you talked to lately, somebody I don't know about? People tend to believe what they read, so let's not get that into the paper." -- Torre, responding to a writer's suggestion that the Yankees were only a couple of weeks away from being sellers at the trading deadline.
Coming up: Clemens (1-2, 5.09 ERA) makes his fourth start since rejoining the Yankees on Wednesday night in a 7:05 ET game. Baltimore counters with left-hander Erik Bedard (5-4, 3.60 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Pete Kerzel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.