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06/19/08 1:11 PM ET

Matsui available to pinch-hit Thursday

Yankees slugger had fluid drained from left knee Wednesday

NEW YORK -- Hideki Matsui was out of the Yankees' starting lineup but will be available to pinch-hit against the Padres on Thursday, a day after draining some fluid from his left knee.

Wednesday night's game had a one-hour, 18-minute rain delay, so manager Joe Girardi decided to give the left fielder a rest.

"If we had a night game [Thursday], I would have probably played him," said Girardi, adding he would have inserted Matsui as a pinch-hitter Wednesday if he needed to. "So I expect him to be in there tomorrow."

Matsui, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee after the 2007 season, said he has some history with the left knee. Matsui recalled that about 10 years ago, as a member of the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, he had torn cartilage in that knee but didn't have surgery on it.

"Throughout the season, water kept basically seeping in there and it kept on flaring up," Matsui said through an interpreter. "I kept having it drained out and kept playing throughout the season."

This season, "it hasn't really bothered me, for the most part," he added. "But usually when my body's tired, a lot of stress is put on it, then it flares up a little bit. For the most part, it's fine."

Because of the surgery on his right knee, Matsui said there was significant compensation on his left knee and left leg.

With no designated-hitter option during a six-game road National League swing from June 24-29, Girardi said a plan for Matsui's use hasn't been developed yet and the team will continue to evaluate the knee.

Matsui carries a .321 average -- fifth highest in the American League -- with seven homers, 34 RBIs and a .403 on-base percentage, third highest on the Yankees.

Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.