Notes: Bernie's back in center

Notes: Bernie's back in center

NEW YORK -- Bernie Williams was back in center field, and from the looks of things, he should see a lot of time there over the final two months of the season.

Williams joined Tony Womack and Bubba Crosby as the Yankees' starting center fielders over the past week, but manager Joe Torre said Sunday that Williams would likely see action in the outfield four or five days per week for the remainder of the year.

"I'm not sure how many days in a row," Torre said of Williams' playing time. "It's for his benefit, too. I thought [Saturday] he had a lot of life in his hands and he moved around really well. Bernie has a big upside for us because he has the ability to hit home runs and that's different than either Bubba or Tony if you put them out there."

It appears to be unlikely that the Yanks will acquire a center fielder before the trade deadline, forcing them to go with their three current options. Torre doesn't seem to have a rhyme or reason for his daily decision, calling it "a feel thing" between Williams, Womack and Crosby.

"I think it's important that we've had Tony involved the last couple of days," Torre said. "It gives us the ability to move people around and do what we want to do. We've played this long with that situation and we have a guy in left field [Hideki Matsui] who can play center, too. It's just depending on what we see, what we like and it's liable to be a musical chair thing."

The Yankees have started five players in center this season, using Williams 57 times, Matsui 25 times, Crosby eight times, with Womack and rookie Melky Cabrera each getting six starts.

Jaret's step forward: Jaret Wright's first rehab start on Saturday was an encouraging step for the right-hander, who will make his next one later this week.

Wright threw 65 pitches over 2 1/3 innings in his outing, and Torre predicts that the pitcher will get up to 80 throws in his second start.

"I didn't talk to him personally, but everything we've got from down there has been coming well," Torre said. "He's just anxious to get out there, but he understands that we're at this point now that he's pitching, and things should start going a little bit quicker for him now, now that he's involved in some games."

Carl Pavano is expected to make one more rehab start on Wednesday before rejoining the rotation next Monday. With no major trades likely to take place, the addition of Pavano, and eventually Wright, will be the Yankees' biggest "acquisitions" in August.

"Both [Wright] and Pavano, and if we get Wang back, it would be a real bonus for us if all of a sudden we got healthy going into September," Torre said. "Right now, the first step is Pavano."

Jolt for Jason: Jason Giambi belted his 18th and 19th home runs of the season on Sunday, giving him 14 in July. That establishes a new career high for the most in a single calendar month for the slugger, who now has 300 career homers.

Giambi also became the first Yankees hitter to homer 14 times in a month since Mickey Mantle accomplished the feat in July 1961.

Torre couldn't be happier to see Giambi's resurgence, as he has provided another big bat in the lower half of New York's lineup.

"It's not like somebody being in a slump. We didn't know how far he was going and how far he was going to come back," Torre said. "So to do what he's done for us this month is pretty encouraging for us."

Brown back: Kevin Brown was back in New York on Sunday, having returned from Los Angeles, where he visited a back specialist on Friday.

Brown declined to speak with reporters, but Torre said that the pitcher seemed to be doing fine.

"He seemed good," Torre said. "I think he felt pretty confident that he'll be pitching again. We don't have a time on that yet, but the fact that he's going to be able to start activity was encouraging."

Making the trip: Ruben Sierra, who is eligible to return from the DL on Wednesday, won't be ready when that date comes, but he will still accompany the team to Cleveland on Monday.

"We're going to take him with us to Cleveland until he's ready to play," Torre said. "Once he's ready to play, we'll send him to Columbus or Trenton or some place to have a couple of games. But until we see that he can run without worrying about it, we'll keep him with us."

On deck: The Yankees have an off-day on Monday before opening a six-game road trip in Cleveland on Tuesday. New York will play three in Cleveland and three in Toronto, as Al Leiter kicks off the trip against the Indians' Scott Elarton.

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