08/17/10 2:00 AM ET
Damon welcomed back to Bronx
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
"It's weird coming back. It's just strange not seeing the old Yankee Stadium," Damon said. "All I have are great memories of this place."
Damon played his first game in the Bronx as a visitor since signing with the Tigers after spending four seasons with the Yankees. In the lineup hitting second and playing designated hitter, Damon received a standing ovation before his first at-bat and doffed his helmet to the Yankees' faithful.
"I think they really appreciate what I brought to the Yankees and what we were able to do as a team last year," said Damon, adding that he wears his Yankees' World Series ring every day.
"I think they'll be very applauding," manager Joe Girardi said before the game. "There's a lot of fondness there between the two sides."
Damon thinks that his offseason signing with Detroit "worked out the best for everybody," even as the Tigers have fallen out of the race in the American League Central. The veteran is enjoying a different role as a mentor to some younger players, including former Yankees farmhand Austin Jackson.
"The Yankees thought they were getting better without me. Are they better? Well, they look pretty good right now," Damon said. "I think all of them knew I could still play, but it would have had to be only on their terms. ... I value myself more than the New York front office valued me."
Girardi said the team does miss Damon's presence in the clubhouse.
"Johnny was great to be around and fun to be around," Girardi said. "Johnny was a free spirit, was a productive player for us. People move on, and that's a tough part of the game."
Before the game, Damon spent a lot of time with his former mates as the Yankees took batting practice. Robinson Cano, a member of what Damon thinks may be the "greatest infield ever," even snuck up behind the 36-year-old and picked him up in a hug.
Damon, for one, said he still checks up on his old team.
"If we don't make [the playoffs], obviously I'm going to hope these guys do well," Damon said. "There's no hard feelings."
A-Rod day-to-day with tight left calf
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez left Monday's 3-1 loss to the Tigers before the fifth inning with tightness in his left calf.
No tests on the calf are scheduled, and Rodriguez is listed as day-to-day.
Manager Joe Girardi said Rodriguez approached him after his nine-pitch at-bat in the fourth to tell him that his calf was bothering him.
"The first it came up was today," said Girardi. "He hadn't said anything before today, so I was a little bit shocked."
Ramiro Pena replaced Rodriguez initially, although after Pena was pinch-hit for in the eighth inning, catcher Francisco Cervelli moved down to the hot corner for just the second time in his big league career. Cervelli did make a catch on a popup in foul territory in the ninth.
Rodriguez has been hampered from time to time this season with hip and groin issues. He missed four games in mid-June with tightness in his right groin and a game 10 days ago with a bruise on his ankle suffered during batting practice.
Girardi wasn't exactly optimistic he would have his regular third baseman in the lineup on Tuesday.
"Would I be a little surprised if he plays tomorrow? Yes," Girardi said. "But we'll see how he is. When a guy comes out, you don't expect him to be able to play the next day. But maybe he'll be available to us as a DH. I can't really tell you."
Forearm injury sidelines Swisher
NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher was pulled from Monday's 3-1 loss to Detroit in the sixth inning with a tight right forearm.
Swisher is listed as day-to-day, and no tests are scheduled on the forearm.
The injury has been lingering the last few days with Swisher, who said the trainers described it to him as a kind of tennis elbow. He wore a wrap on his right arm during his first at-bat, but discarded it after striking out. The wrap was back on his right arm after the game.
"Just wear and tear, I think," Swisher said of the injury. "I've been taking a lot of swings lately."
Swisher wasn't yet sure whether he would be able to play on Tuesday.
"I just want to get the pain out of there," Swisher said. "It's one of those things where you keep battling and hope it goes away. This week it hasn't gone away."
Swisher's injury, combined with the tight left calf that caused Alex Rodriguez to leave Monday's game and the turned ankle that took Lance Berkman out of the lineup, leaves the Yankees alarmingly thin on position players. If none of those three can play on Tuesday, manager Joe Girardi will have only one healthy bench player.
"It makes us real short, that's for sure," Girardi said.
Berkman out of lineup with ankle injury
NEW YORK -- Lance Berkman was out of the lineup on Monday, one day after he left the Yankees' game in Kansas City with a right ankle injury.
Berkman twisted his right ankle when he stepped on pitcher Bryan Bullington's foot on first base on Sunday while trying to beat out a double play. Marcus Thames pinch-hit for the designated hitter the next time his spot in the order came up.
Manager Joe Girardi said that Berkman remains day-to-day.
"I don't expect it to be a long time, but I don't know if it's going to be two days or one day or three days," Girardi said. "I doubt I would have him today [as a pinch-hitter]."
With Berkman out of the lineup, Jorge Posada started at DH on Monday night with Francisco Cervelli behind the plate.
Johnson suffers setback in recovery
NEW YORK -- Lance Berkman isn't the only designated hitter hurting. Nick Johnson, who hasn't suited up for the Yankees since May 7, suffered a setback in his attempt to return from right wrist surgery.
"Nick Johnson's wrist hurts again," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been doing work and [trainer] Gene [Monahan] came in and said it was sore. I'm not sure exactly what that means, how long is it now."
Johnson had been slowly making progress since undergoing surgery on May 18, finally taking batting practice over the last week. Girardi wasn't sure exactly how he suffered the setback, though.
The Yankees hadn't exactly been counting on Johnson's return. They never set any firm timetable on his comeback, and they pulled off the deal for Berkman at the Trade Deadline precisely because they did not know when or even if Johnson would return.
"It's hard to count on someone who has a wrist injury. Wrists are very difficult to come back from without a full offseason," Girardi said. "I wasn't anticipating us getting him back. If we got him back, I thought that was a huge plus. What this [setback] means, I can't exactly tell you, but it doesn't sound too good."
Johnson has hit .167 with two home runs and eight RBIs in 72 at-bats this season after signing with the Yankees as a free agent.
Granderson faces Tigers for first time
NEW YORK -- Having missed the Yankees' earlier trip to Detroit this season, Curtis Granderson was looking forward to finally facing his former team.
"It's going to be fun," Granderson said before Monday's game. "I got a chance to talk to some of the guys and the coaching staff beforehand. I'm just looking forward to going up against guys that used to be my teammates."
It will be interesting for Granderson to step into the batters' box against pitchers he's used to watching from center field. Granderson owns only six career at-bats against Detroit pitchers -- three each off Phil Coke and Max Scherzer, who were involved in the trade that sent Granderson to New York.
"For the other guys, 300 feet away, it's a little difficult to see exactly what's going on," Granderson said. "The only slight advantage either one of us might have is we've had chances during Detroit Spring Training to go against one another."
For his part, Granderson is feeling a bit more comfortable in the box after sitting down with hitting coach Kevin Long and fine-tuning his swing last week. Granderson said he was just trying to quiet down some movement and get his hands into proper position on a more consistent basis.
The early returns have been fairly promising, with Granderson picking up four hits over the weekend in Kansas City.
"We made the adjustment, and it feels comfortable at the plate," Granderson said. "The results, one way or another, hasn't been the concern right now. Once you make a change like that, you start to feel comfortable with it, and that's where you want to be."
"I don't think he's a .240 hitter," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think his at-bats have been much better since his little adjustment."
Three Yankees pitchers are all scheduled to continue their respective recoveries on Tuesday. Andy Pettitte will play catch, Damaso Marte will throw a bullpen session and Alfredo Aceves will make his third rehab appearance. ... The Yankees kicked off their second annual HOPE (Helping Others Persevere and Excel) Week on Monday when they hosted a surprise pool party and barbecue for 13-year-old quadruple amputee Jorge Grajales. Grajales threw out the game's ceremonial first pitch. ... The Yankees bullpen has not allowed a run in 16 of the team's last 19 games, compiling a 1.11 ERA in that stretch. ... Derek Jeter has not committed an error in his last 52 games at shortstop, the longest streak of his career according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.