09/15/07 4:40 PM ET
Notes: New territory for Damon
Former Sox center fielder earns start beside Green Monster
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Damon made just his sixth career Fenway Park start in left field on Saturday, drawing the assignment as the Yankees prepared for the middle game of their three-game series with the Red Sox.
The last time Damon made a start in left field, it was 2000 and he was wearing a Kansas City Royals uniform. That fact didn't faze Damon, who has been helped by fresher legs since yielding center field to Melky Cabrera and said he simply hoped to make the plays as they come.
"This whole place is tough to play the outfield," Damon said. "You've got a lot of hard walls out there, and the wind can potentially be tough. I can't worry about it too much."
The weekend has already started on a high note for Damon, who logged a season-high four hits in Friday's series opener. One point in Damon's favor could be his long-standing relationship with Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez, who is inactive for this weekend's tilt at the Fens.
Ramirez has never particularly drawn praise as an excellent defensive player, but Damon said that in serving as Ramirez's teammate for four years, he was able to get an up-close look at just how hard Ramirez worked to get a handle for the imposing wall.
"I know there's not too many people who can play left field as well as Manny has here," Damon said. "He's mastered the wall and mastered the bounces off the wall. Hopefully, it'll be a good thing for me here."
Back at it: There was a time when the Yankees might have shied away from putting Jason Giambi back at first base less than 24 hours after he appeared utterly lost on a hard New England infield.
But Giambi has earned enough bonus credits with reliable defensive play since his August return from the disabled list that Torre felt comfortable trotting Giambi back out on Saturday for a second go-round.
"I'm playing a great first base, and definitely since I've come back, that's something I've taken a lot of pride in, going out there and playing well," Giambi said. "But the biggest thing is that [the mistakes] help to push me and get more focused."
Giambi's greatest asset has never been his glove, anyway -- his career numbers against Red Sox starter Josh Beckett (.385, two home runs, six RBIs) helped clinch the decision over Doug Mientkiewicz (.188, one home run, two RBIs).
"[Giambi] has been good," Torre said. "Last night was ugly, but he wasn't the only one. It wasn't pretty for the first four hours. After that, it picked up pace."
Taking his time: Kyle Farnsworth has felt for two days as though he is ready to pitch, but the Yankees appear to be taking a very cautious stance with the reliever.
Torre said the Yankees do not expect to have Farnsworth available for duty on Saturday once again, a common trend after he sat out the entire series at Toronto due to a stiff neck.
"I feel fine," Farnsworth said before playing catch with fellow reliever Brian Bruney. "I probably could have pitched [on Friday]."
Looking ahead: The Yankees have set their pitching plans for the upcoming homestand. Phil Hughes, Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte are in line to face the Orioles, while either Chien-Ming Wang or Ian Kennedy will open the weekend series against the Blue Jays. Torre said the Yankees were leaning toward Wang only to help keep Kennedy on a little extra rest.
Don't do that: Cabrera was admonished during and after Friday's game for sliding into first base, something the Yankees have repeatedly discouraged.
The fact that he did it feetfirst instead of headfirst, trying to beat out a fourth-inning double play, didn't change the situation. Torre said that he was in an elevator with Cabrera's mother after the game and nearly brought up the subject, hoping to drill the message home.
Bombers bits: Jorge Posada batted fifth again on Saturday, with Hideki Matsui hitting sixth, something that will likely continue until Matsui can break his slide. ... Friday's four-hour, 43-minute game was the second-longest nine-inning contest in Major League history, second only to last year's four-hour, 45-minute Yankees-Red Sox game on Aug. 18 at Fenway Park. ... Double-A Trenton can clinch the Eastern League title in Game 4 of its best-of-five series on Saturday at Akron.
Coming up: Fenway Park will play host to a reprise of the pitching matchup from Game 7 of the 2001 World Series on Sunday, when Roger Clemens (6-6, 4.45 ERA) makes his first appearance in the Boston city limits since 2003. The Red Sox will counter with Curt Schilling (8-7, 3.93 ERA), with first pitch under the lights set for 8:05 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.