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07/15/08 8:40 PM ET

Matsui may opt for surgery to end year

Rehabilitation of Yankees outfielder's left knee interrupted

NEW YORK -- Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui will cut short his rehabilitation and could be headed for season-ending surgery after experiencing more inflammation in his troublesome left knee.

Matsui, 34, is currently on the disabled list and had been working out at the club's Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla. He did not hit on Tuesday and is scheduled to see team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon in New York by Friday.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman called Matsui's continued issues "discouraging" and said it is now more likely that Matsui may not return this season.

"I can't tell you that we're there yet, but we're getting close," Cashman said. "At some point, you run out of options. The last resort is the surgery. How close to that, we'll get a better idea on Friday."

Cashman said that Matsui's injury did not necessarily make it more likely that the Yankees would consider free agent Barry Bonds, who has been unable to latch on with any of the 30 Major League clubs following his assorted off-field issues.

The organization's primary focus, Cashman said, is to try to return Matsui to action on the field. The situation does not place the Yankees in the immediate market for a designated hitter like Bonds, the GM said.

"I would say any rampant speculation on us involving a player of that magnitude would be extremely premature," Cashman said. "I would caution everybody to not misunderstand that since I'm not saying no to it, that that means, 'Oh my gosh, that might be happening down the line.'

"It's not something we're focused on at this point. We're focused on getting Hideki Matsui back rather than what we're going to do if he's not back."

Matsui was one of the Yankees' more productive batters this season, hitting .323 with seven home runs and 34 RBIs, though he has not played since June 22. The veteran aggravated his left knee by playing the outfield during the Yankees' June 13-15 series at Houston.

Matsui has had his left knee drained at least twice already this season and is expected to require arthroscopic surgery on it at some point. If Matsui were to have the procedure now, it would end his season.

"At this point right now, it's hard to say," Matsui told The Associated Press. "You try, believing that you're going to be able to go back this season. If it comes to the point where I have to decide surgery, then that's that."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.