Notes: Flaherty, Unit a match

Yankees notes: Flaherty, Unit a match

NEW YORK -- Randy Johnson seemed to like throwing to John Flaherty so much on Saturday, Yankees manager Joe Torre is ready to try the combination again.

After Johnson thoroughly dominated the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend at Busch Stadium, shutting out their potent offense on four hits through seven innings, Torre had an inkling that it might just have been the change in battery.

Johnson hasn't quite been the usual intimidating 'Big Unit' this season, going 6-5 with a 3.76 ERA and saying on occasion that he was happy "just to keep [his] team in the game."

Saturday showed a different Unit, with shades of the fireballer Yankees fans expected when the team traded for Johnson this past offseason, as he fanned seven Cardinals in the game.

If the pairing with Flaherty -- who caught Johnson for the first time in his 13 starts as a Yankee -- helped spur a great performance via a change in scenery, Torre is happy to play the hot hand and give regular catcher Jorge Posada an evening off.

"After [Saturday], why not?" Torre said. "We'll just pick that day to give Jorgie [a day off]."

Flaherty said he appreciated the gesture, but truth be told, the backup catcher doesn't have much faith in the prolonged "designated catcher" routine. It has been a standby in the past for some big-name pitchers, but Flaherty isn't quite sure the same rules apply here.

"I guess it works for some guys, like when Greg Maddux had Charlie O'Brien and then Eddie Perez [with the Atlanta Braves]," Flaherty said. "I'm not really a believer in it.

"First and foremost, we've got an All-Star guy here (Posada) who's always a threat to hit the ball out of the yard and does a great job. Besides, when [Johnson's] on, it doesn't really matter who's behind the plate."

The other part of the equation to consider is the loss of the productive bat of Posada, who entered Wednesday's action hitting .289 with eight home runs and 31 RBI.

Though a capable receiver, Flaherty -- a .191 batter this season -- doesn't quite cut the same imposing figure in the heart of the Yankees lineup as Posada does. Whether it continues to be an ongoing experiment is up for debate, but either way, the battery of Johnson and Flaherty will try to double up their success Wednesday.

"I look forward to playing, but I know we're not as good [an offensive team] when I'm in the lineup," Flaherty said. "We look forward to having Jorgie's bat in the lineup."

Rudy says: Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was on hand early in his usual box adjoining the Yankees' dugout, and gave a thumbs-up to the proposed $800 million Yankee Stadium unveiled at Wednesday's press conference.

Though the former mayor conceded that there was something special about watching today's Yankees take their cuts on the same patch of land where Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle took theirs, Giuliani said "it was time" for the city to step forward and join the revolution of cities building new stadiums for teams.

"There's something special about being here," said Giuliani, who tried to champion new stadiums for both New York baseball teams before leaving office. "You do lose something, but it's practical. They need a new stadium."

Giuliani said he was especially looking forward to the redevelopment of the immediate area around Yankee Stadium, providing fans with many more options of restaurants, bars and retail outlets to entertain themselves before and after the game.

"It helps bring people in," Giuliani said. "It creates a tremendous amount of economic development."

An ongoing thing: Torre would not place a concrete date on when Hideki Matsui will be able to serve as more than a designated hitter for the Yankees, saying only that it would be "a while."

Matsui sprained his right ankle during the Yankees' loss in St. Louis on Sunday. Wearing heavy tape, Matsui went 2-for-3 as a designated hitter on Tuesday before leaving for pinch-hitter Ruben Sierra. He was back in the lineup again on Wednesday.

A little charge: Jason Giambi was back in the starting lineup at first base on Wednesday as well, a night after doubling in two runs with a drive that nearly cleared the outfield wall.

"He gave us a little charge last night," Torre said. "The only way he's going to be able to drive the ball is if he gets in there and gets his regular at-bats."

Giambi is hitting .238 with four home runs and 17 RBIs entering Wednesday's action.

On deck: The Yankees and Pirates end their Interleague go-round on Thursday, as Johnson (6-5, 3.76 ERA) and Oliver Perez (5-4, 5.88 ERA) face off in the final game of the series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

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