Notes: Torre talks rotation

Notes: Torre talks rotation

ARLINGTON -- The Yankees will skip the fifth starter's spot next time through the rotation, but Joe Torre said that Sidney Ponson will indeed get another shot on the mound for New York.

Torre named Chien-Ming Wang, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina as the starters for this weekend's series against the Devil Rays at Yankee Stadium, skipping Ponson's scheduled turn, which would have been Saturday.

Ponson allowed six runs in 2 1/3 innings on Sunday in Toronto, taking the loss for New York. In two starts for the Yankees, he is 0-1 with a 10.00 ERA, giving his team one decent start and one bad one.

"I would certainly like to believe that with Sidney's experience and his ability, and the fact that he's still young enough to get himself consistent, that he'll find it," said Torre, who spoke with Ponson on Monday. "I'd like to give [Ponson] another start. Ability-wise, he's fine; it's a matter of finding that comfort zone for himself."

The Yankees won't need a fifth starter again until Aug. 5 in Baltimore, so that's the likely date for Ponson's next start.

The Yankees also have a doubleheader on Aug. 18 in Boston to kick off a five-game series, so New York may need six starters for that stretch, which includes no off-days. Shawn Chacon, currently in the bullpen, could be an option for that week.

"We have to wait to see what happens," Torre said. "We don't know what's going to happen by the end of this month with the trade situation. There's nobody of immediate help from our Minor League system right now; [but] down the road, we have some potential ability.

"The nuts and bolts of it right now is that we have Chacon, too," the manager added. "We still feel that if we can get a start out of him where he can get his legs under him, that would help, also."

Damon out: Johnny Damon was a late scratch from the lineup on Monday, as the center fielder was experiencing back problems. Damon felt his back stiffen up as he got into a car around 2 p.m. CT.

"It's just a freak thing; my back just knotted up on me," Damon said. "It's pretty much from the top to the bottom; I've been walking gingerly, but hopefully with a night's rest, it will be better tomorrow."

"He came in today and his back was locked up, so I took him out of the lineup," Torre said.

Damon has played in 91 of the Yankees' 96 games, missing time because of the broken sesamoid bone in his foot and an abdominal strain.

Melky Cabrera replaced Damon in the leadoff spot, going 3-for-4 with a single, double, triple and two runs scored. Bubba Crosby stood in for Damon in center field, making a nice grab on a Brad Wilkerson fly ball with two runners on in the sixth.

"I'm glad Melky got the job done in the leadoff hole, coming a home run away from the cycle," Damon said. "Bubba made some great catches out there today, too. Hopefully I'll be in there tomorrow."

Jeter OK: Derek Jeter was removed from Monday's game after eight innings, as Nick Green played shortstop for the final frame of the Yankees' 6-2 win.

Torre said after the game that Jeter was "a little achy" from playing four games on the artificial turf in Toronto, but the manager plans on having Jeter in the starting lineup on Tuesday.

"It was nothing; he'll play tomorrow," Torre said. "I just saw an opportunity four runs ahead to give him an inning."

Roster relief: New York designated Kris Wilson for assignment before Monday's game, recalling T.J. Beam from Triple-A Columbus.

Wilson was 0-0 with an 8.64 ERA in five games for the Yankees, including one start. He allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings on Sunday, unable to stop the bleeding after Ponson's poor start.

Beam went 1-0 with a 10.13 ERA in eight outings in his first stint with the Yankees, but six of the nine runs he allowed came in one terrible outing. Beam had not allowed a run in his last six games with Columbus before being recalled by New York on Monday.

"Kris worked a couple times out of the bullpen and did a good job, but Beam has been lighting it up down there," Torre said. "We feel he can give us an inning-plus here and there. We had Kris here because we thought he could give us a little more length, but we decided to go with more of a reliever-type guy to spell either Proctor or Farnsworth."

Rehab rumblings: Octavio Dotel (right elbow) was cleared to throw on flat ground immediately, as Dr. James Andrews read his MRI exam and concurred with team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon that Dotel had no structural damage in his elbow.

Dotel is expected to resume throwing off a mound in four or five days.

Hideki Matsui (left wrist) took 75 swings with his right hand off a tee on Monday, using a short, 24-inch bat. Matsui then took 25 dry swings using both hands, though he has not been cleared to take batting practice yet.

"At this point, there are no problems," Matsui said through a translator. "I'm practicing to where it doesn't cause any problems."

Matsui is unsure when he will be ready to rejoin the team.

"Right now, I don't have a specific date," Matsui said. "I'm working on it now, expecting to be back as soon as possible."

Robinson Cano (hamstring) also worked out at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, doing everything other than running the bases. Cano ran figure eight drills in the outfield, but there is no timetable for him to run the bases yet.

"It's feeling a lot looser," Cano said. "But I don't want to rush it."

Coming up: The Yankees and Rangers play the middle game of their three-game series on Tuesday, as Mike Mussina takes on Adam Eaton. First pitch is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. ET.

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