Notes: Matsui cleared for BP

Notes: Matsui cleared for BP

NEW YORK -- Hideki Matsui was cleared to take full batting practice for the first time on Tuesday, a big step in his hopeful return to the Yankees' lineup this season. Matsui is scheduled to hit indoors on Wednesday.

Matsui had no problems with soft-toss hitting drills on Sunday, but he hasn't taken live batting practice yet. The Yankees originally thought Matsui wouldn't be ready until some time later this week.

"In terms of being pain free, that's something I definitely feel good about and very satisfied," Matsui said through his interpreter. "I'm still working on my mechanics and things like that."

Matsui said he's still conscious of his left wrist when he swings, but feels that getting his timing and mechanics back are all he needs before returning. Manager Joe Torre said he expects Matsui to join the team sometime this season.

One thing that could limit Matsui's progress is that the Minor League regular season ends in the first week of September, which may be too late for Matsui to make a rehab appearance. But Torre didn't seem concerned about that possibility.

"We can probably DH him at some point," Torre said. "I think that's the safest thing for him to do, as opposed to have him dive for a ball in the outfield."

Matsui originally fractured his wrist trying to make a sliding catch against the Red Sox on May 11. Since then, he has been maintaining his conditioning by constantly running and doing exercises to strengthen his wrist and keep his timing.

"My swing itself isn't that bad in terms of mechanics," Matsui said. "Hitting the ball, seeing the ball, hitting it with good timing, things like that, I think I'm still a little off."

Matsui said he couldn't say when he thinks he'll be able to return or how many at-bats it will take for him to get back to normal. He could answer how he's feeling mentally.

"I don't get anxious at all," Matsui said. "What I focus on is the next thing I need to do to get prepared and completing the next step. That's all I really focus on."

Remembering Katrina: While the Yankees and Major League Baseball had planned a special remembrance program on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina's devastation, Yankees pitching coach Ron Guidry would rather not look back.

The man nicknamed "Louisiana Lightning" lives two hours away from New Orleans and was born in Lafayette, La. He remembers looking at pictures of the wreckage when it happened, he saw it first-hand while driving through Mississippi on his way to Spring Training and he looked at more pictures on the eve of the anniversary.

"It's one of those things where I can't help to think of it when I see it, but I still don't like to be reminded that it happened," Guidry said. "The reason why I don't like to be reminded is that it can happen again."

Since Tuesday's game was rained out, the Yankees did not have their pregame remembrance program, which was going to include public service announcements and graphical displays, encouraging and informing people about how they could help by donating to Habitat for Humanity.

Major League Baseball and Habitat for Humanity International have constructed 21 homes in sites around MLB stadiums, Spring Training locations, the 2005 World Series, the World Baseball Classic and 2006 All-Star Game.

But in Guidry's opinion, there's still much more to be done.

"There is still devastation," he said. "It's not like it's going to take just a year to clean it all up. It's going to take New Orleans years and years and years to recuperate. They're going to rebuild the city as good as they can, but I don't know if the city will ever be what you remember New Orleans as being."

Guidry has friends who responded to the hurricane as emergency personnel and still speaks with them about the situation in the Louisiana area.

"They would tell me what you see on television is not the worst part," Guidry said. "What I saw I thought was bad. It was hard to envision it being worse."

Guidry said he grew up dealing with hurricanes on a daily basis and has been through four or five per year in the past two years. He added that nothing can compare to what he's seen in recent years.

"What's alarming to me is that they're getting bigger and stronger," Guidry said. "It's like, 'Is this trend going to stay here for a while?' What everybody's afraid of is a hurricane that's as big as Katrina or Rita that's packing Category-5 winds."

On the anniversary, Guidry just would rather put those fears aside and play baseball. Tuesday's rainout delayed any scoreboard program, but Guidry still couldn't keep the memories from coming back.

Rest for the weary: Derek Jeter just had his first off-day since Aug. 7, and he was already thinking about his next one.

"We have another one coming up now don't we?" Jeter said. "Baltimore, right?"

Yes, the Yankees will get their next off-day on Sept. 7 before a four-game series at Baltimore. The Yankees had played 21 games in the past 20 days before Monday.

Jeter joked with reporters, saying he wouldn't reveal what he did on his off-day. For many Yankees, it included plenty of rest. But there's more to it than just that, Jeter said.

"People always talk about physical [rest, saying], 'Oh you sleep all day,'" Jeter said. "A lot of times it's a good mental break. It's good to get away from the field, do whatever you're going to do and come back ready to play. Especially, at this point in the season, it's probably more beneficial mentally than it is physically."

Jason Giambi, who was nursing cramps in multiple parts of his body and didn't start Sunday's game against the Angels, said he was feeling better on Tuesday.

But like Jeter, one day wasn't enough for Torre.

"It didn't feel like a full 24 hours, at least for me," Torre said with a laugh. "But I'm older than these guys. It's more important that they feel better than me."

Sorrow for the Sox: The Yankees and Red Sox are bitter rivals, but news that David Ortiz left the team in Oakland to fly back to Boston on Tuesday because of a rapid heartbeat left the Yankees feeling sympathetic.

"You don't like to hear that about anyone," Jeter said, who was unaware of Ortiz's situation. "I don't care what team they're on or who they are. You don't like to see anyone in a situation like that."

Unlike Jeter, Torre had heard the news.

"I like the fact that he's not playing, but I don't like that he's not playing for that reason," Torre said.

Up next: The Yankees and Tigers will play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. ET. Chien-Ming Wang will face Nate Robertson in the opener with Jaret Wright taking the hill opposite Wilfredo Ledezma in Game 2.

Ryan Mink is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.