Notes: Damon's dilemma

Yanks notes: Damon's dilemma

DETROIT -- Johnny Damon has been playing through pain since mid-April, but the center fielder's injured right foot has gotten bad enough that it may cause him to miss about a game per week.

Damon sat out of Tuesday's game against the Tigers, giving the broken bone in his foot a rest. He will undergo further testing on the foot in New York next week in order to determine whether the injury has gotten worse over the past month.

"It's just not getting better," Damon said. "It's a bigger area that is hurt, so I'll take the day off. I'm just going to stay off it as much as I can and try to be ready to go tomorrow."

"It's something we're going to have to find a way to make him comfortable," said manager Joe Torre. "We'll monitor it, and if this is what we have to do, this is what we'll have to do."

Damon, who is batting .282 with six homers, 27 RBIs and 11 stolen bases, had played in all but one of the Yankees' games this season, starting 41 in center and seven as the DH. He estimates that he may need a day off each week to keep his foot from becoming too painful, with night games after day games serving as the ideal time, essentially giving him two days off.

"I can handle that," Torre said. "We have enough coverage. With Bubba [Crosby] coming back [from the disabled list later this week], we have bodies out there that can help."

"It stinks," Damon said. "I know these guys are counting on me, the pitchers especially, to go out and do what I can. It's better to take today off than in 10 days or two weeks from now, be lost for a while."

Damon said that the injury is a broken sesamoid bone, which is located under the big toe. The injury had been limited to one spot for a few weeks, but Damon said that it has recently expanded to other parts of his foot.

"If it was concentrated on one spot, it would be different," he said. "Now it's a bigger area, so that's what we're concerned about. I think we're doing the right thing by picking and choosing days to take off."

Damon doesn't know if surgery would repair the bone, but he has no plans to do anything which will cause him to miss any extended period of time. A day off here and there should do the trick until the winter, when he can rest it and give it time to heal.

"It's such a small bone, that it can heal -- but not if it's constantly being used," Damon said. "If I ran more flat-footed, I'd be better off, but that's not the way I run."

"It's not going to get any better until the season is over and he can immobilize it," Torre said. "He's still pretty darned good right now, we'd just like him to be a little more comfortable."

To help ease the stress on the foot, Damon will wear additional padding in his shoe when he plays. He said that the injury may have affected his speed "just a little," but he insists that it hasn't had any impact on his decision-making in the outfield.

"I'm not worried if we can give me some time," Damon said. "I'm upset because I like to go out there and play as many games as I can. But before I'll be lost for a couple of weeks, I think we're doing the right thing. I think I will get better, so we'll try to find ways to get it better."

Sheff sits: In addition to Damon, the Yankees were without the services of Gary Sheffield on Tuesday, as the right fielder was scratched from the lineup less than an hour before first pitch.

The team said that Sheffield was removed because of a sore left wrist, the same wrist which caused him to miss almost three weeks this month.

Terrence Long, who had been scheduled to be the Yankees' DH, moved to right field, while Jason Giambi slipped into the DH spot and Andy Phillips played first base.

Jeter OK: After being removed from Monday's game in the fifth inning with a mild sprain of his right hand, Derek Jeter was back in the lineup on Tuesday night.

Jeter had trouble throwing the ball after jamming his hand while sliding, but he experienced no swelling overnight and had no trouble with the hand on Tuesday.

"If it was the other hand, I wouldn't have even taken him out of the game," Torre said.

"It's great," Jeter said when asked how his hand felt. "I wouldn't have left it was up to me."

Rocket launched? Published reports on Tuesday indicated that Roger Clemens is close to signing with the Astros, a move which Torre expected all along.

"They're used to what his needs are, and if he wants to play, he lives there," Torre said. "That was the reason he came back to begin with, the fact that it was home and Andy was on that team. Circumstances really haven't changed."

Torre hasn't spoken with Clemens since last year's World Series, when the manager called to congratulate his former pitcher on reaching another Fall Classic.

Despite the rumors that the Yankees were one of the four teams Clemens was considering, Torre never let himself think about that move becoming a reality.

"I didn't think it would ever happen, to be honest," Torre said. "I wish him luck. He's easy to like and I really enjoyed our time together."

Chacon throws: Shawn Chacon, on the DL with a hematoma on his left leg, threw a 30-pitch bullpen session on Monday and will throw a full mound session on Wednesday.

Assuming he has no setbacks, Chacon should make a Minor League rehab start this weekend, and could return to the Yankees late next week.

"We'll have someone who is watching him tell us," Torre said. "We'll see what it looks like."

Coming up: The Yankees and Tigers square off Wednesday in the third game of their four-game series, as Mike Mussina takes on Nate Robertson. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

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