Notes: Jeter out of lineup

Notes: Jeter out of lineup

NEW YORK -- The Yankees took the field on Sunday for the rubber match against the Mets with a makeshift lineup, as Gary Sheffield, Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada all sat out with minor injuries.

Jeter was not in the lineup for the first time all year, having started the first 43 games at shortstop. Alex Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui are now the only Yankees to be in the lineup every day this season.

Jeter was hit on the left elbow Saturday by a Kris Benson pitch, saying after the game that he would be back in the lineup on Sunday. But manager Joe Torre said that the elbow "puffed up" on Jeter, so he decided to sit him.

Posada was nursing a sore right shoulder, the aftereffects of a play at the plate on Saturday in which the catcher landed on the cleat of Mets pitcher Dae-Sung Koo.

Rey Sanchez started at shortstop, while Matsui shifted to right field and Bernie Williams played center field. John Flaherty started in Posada's place behind the plate.

"You know how important it is, even for the players, to beat the Mets," said Torre. "But you have to do what's best for the long haul. You're not going to take a chance of somebody playing hurt and maybe making it worse."

Torre said that all three players would likely report to Yankee Stadium on Monday for treatment with team trainers, and that each of them could return to the lineup on Tuesday.

Sheff not serious: Sheffield, who missed his first game of the season on Saturday with a sore left hand, was given another day off by Torre, who felt that the two days off, combined with Monday's off-day, would help the right fielder get his hand back into shape.

Sheffield said that the injury involved broken blood vessels in his hand, a result of swinging too hard. He first felt it on May 13 in Oakland, but he didn't let it keep him out of the lineup.

"This is something he's had before and been able to play through," Torre said. "But he probably played too much with it this time."

Sheffield has just six hits in his 26 at-bats on the road trip, a .231 clip. He refused to blame his recent stretch on the hand, though he admitted that it has limited what he has been able to do at the plate to some extent.

"If I can't hold the bat as tight as I want when I need to, then I'm limiting myself," Sheffield said. "My hands are my bread and butter. Guys throw hard, my strength is my hands. I overpower the ball, but now I can't overpower it."

Sheffield said he has dealt with this issue as far back as 1992, when he played in San Diego. That's when he started taping his fingers before games, a practice he keeps up to this day.

From the Subway tracks: Jeter had been the only player to play in all 44 regular-season games between the Mets and Yankees before Sunday. He also played in all five games of the 2000 World Series between the two clubs. Before Sunday, Jeter had played in all but 5 1/2 innings of those 44 Interleague contests. ... The Yankees have won their last four series openers, the team's longest such streak since they won five straight openers last year from May 25 through June 8. ... The Yankees are 6-2 in a stretch that will see them play 21 of 27 games on the road. New York opened the season with 23 of its first 35 games at home.

On deck: After an off-day on Monday, the Yankees open a three-game series against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Mike Mussina takes the hill for New York, while Wilfredo Ledezma gets the nod for Detroit.

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