Notes: Unit raring to go

Yankees notes: Unit raring to go

ST. PETERSBURG -- When Sean Henn checks in Wednesday to start his Major League debut, the 24-year-old left-hander may want to avoid seeking advice from the veteran whose turn he'll be taking.

Randy Johnson may not be in a tutoring mood.

Far from endorsing the cautionary move to have him skip one start with a tender groin, the Big Unit appeared rather displeased by it Tuesday.

"I feel fine. I could've started [Wednesday]," Johnson told reporters.

Asked whether he was disappointed by the joint decision of manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre, Johnson said, "Obviously," and walked off.

Approached again a few minutes later and asked whether he could elaborate, Johnson said courteously, "No. I've got nothing to elaborate on."

Responded Stottlemyre, "I wouldn't like him being real happy about it. And it makes me feel real good about next time."

Johnson's "next time" should come on his regular turn, Monday night in Yankee Stadium against Seattle, his original American League team.

The decision to have him skip Wednesday's start was based on what Torre and Stottlemyre heard from team trainers monitoring Johnson's reaction to having made the final pitches on April 29 with a tweaked groin.

"After he threw, he was grabbing his throwing area. He had some discomfort there," Stottlemyre said. "Joe and I both listen to the trainers a lot. We have confidence in them, and they're usually right.

"We felt, at this point in the season, it was probably the best thing to do. It's nothing real bad or anything. There's no doubt in my mind at all that it's just one start."

Johnson is still scheduled to throw on Wednesday, but it will be long toss on flat ground.

Chasing 300 wins, a target 52 victories away, Johnson is understandably reluctant to give up any starts.

But this is a case of "safety first," according to Torre, who added, "The safest thing to do at this point is to give him one turn. He's a competitor and he wants to pitch, but we felt it was the safest thing to do."

DH glut? Following Tuesday's game, the Yankees optioned Bubba Crosby to Triple-A Columbus, opening the roster spot that Henn will occupy upon his call-up from Double-A Trenton on Wednesday.

Crosby has been a valuable spare outfielder, but ironically, the club could make that move because Bernie Williams now becomes available as the backup.

Williams' primary role, however, will be as a DH. In fact, Torre would have played him in that spot on Tuesday night, with Jason Giambi at first, had Tino Martinez not been over his two-day battle with a viral infection.

Giambi, who has made 18 of his 22 starts at DH, wasn't sure how his playing time will be affected by Williams also becoming an option for that role.

"I haven't thought about it. Skipper will do what he needs to do," said Giambi, who returned on Tuesday after a three-day bout with cramps in his right forearm. "I'm not assuming anything. Im just going to play baseball. That's all I'm worried about."

A three-way logjam, however, may be as far as two weeks off. It may now take that long for Ruben Sierra to complete his comeback from a partially-torn biceps muscle.

Sierra has no problem batting left-handed, but had to curtail a right-handed session in the cage on Tuesday when he "still felt it a little on the right side."

Cap-tured: Some capjackers have apparently made off with a shipment of Yankees caps, but fans looking forward to Yankee Stadium's Cap Weekend needn't flip their lids: The club will make sure every eligible fan will still get either a cap or a voucher redeemable for one.

Early Tuesday, part of a shipment of caps earmarked for the Friday and Saturday promotions was hijacked.

However, half of the shipment did reach The Stadium. Vouchers will make up the difference for the games against the Oakland A's. The caps will be given to the first 18,000 fans age 21 and over attending the Friday night game, and to all fans attending Saturday afternoon's game.

Coming up: Henn makes his big league debut on Wednesday in the third game of the four-game series at Tropicana Field, opposite Tampa Bay's Hideo Nomo. It's a one-start shot for the left-hander, who had an 0.71 Double-A ERA and held hitters to an 0-for-14 mark with men in scoring position.

Tom Singer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.