Notes: Torre confident with Damon

Notes: Torre confident with Damon

NEW YORK -- Johnny Damon isn't exactly streaking into the postseason, but his manager doesn't appear too concerned about his leadoff hitter.

Damon entered Friday's game with just three hits in his last 25 at-bats, including a 1-for-10 series against the Blue Jays this week. Joe Torre removed Damon in the fourth inning of Wednesday's win over Baltimore, allowing Damon to work in the batting cages to work out the kinks.

"He's trying to find it," Torre said. "He's trying to find a way to stay down. He's been flying out."

Damon's history of success in the postseason -- which the Yankees have witnessed first-hand -- suggests that when the first pitch is thrown in the American League Division Series next Tuesday, Damon's recent struggles won't be on his mind.

In 16 career ALDS games, Damon has a .362 average, a .413 on-base percentage, eight extra-base hits and seven stolen bases.

"I'm of a mind that, when the lights go on, he'll be fine," Torre said. "Even though you're out here trying, it's still playing out the string of the last few games. We all know what kind of a big-event guy he is."

Damon's duty: Before Friday's game, Damon took part in an on-field ceremony to announce his commitment to the Wounded Warrior Project, a not-for-profit organization aimed at assisting men and women of the U.S. armed forces who have been severely injured during the war on terrorism.

"I have deep gratitude for the men and women that have been severely wounded while fighting for our freedoms and way of life," Damon said. "I have visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center and witnessed first-hand the enduring spirits of those recovering. My goal is to ensure their challenges and sacrifices are recognized."

Services provided by the WWP include benefits counseling, rehabilitation, adaptive sports opportunities and advocacy initiatives. Johnny's father, Jimmy Damon, was a career Army NCO and Vietnam veteran.

Final countdown: With three games remaining in the regular season, Torre has one last weekend to get his players a day off before the postseason begins.

Torre has rotated days off among his starting position players since the Yankees clinched the AL East last week, so he doesn't plan on sitting too many guys against the Blue Jays this weekend.

"I may take guys out of games, but I think we're fine," he said. "Guys have had enough time."

Among Torre's plans are to sit Jorge Posada on Saturday, giving Sal Fasano one last start behind the plate. Torre also wants to get Bernie Williams and Melky Cabrera a game, as well as use Jason Giambi at first base for at least part of a game.

Robinson Cano, who entered Friday night's game with a .343 average, may also get a day off if the batting title is "completely out of the question," Torre said. Cano trails Minnesota's Joe Mauer by six percentage points.

Roster rumblings: Andy Phillips and Miguel Cairo are the likely candidates to take the final two spots on the Yankees' Division Series roster, as Torre plans to talk with all of his players over the weekend about the final decisions.

As they have in the past, the Yankees will take three or four players who are not on the roster with them on the road, letting them stay with the team during the playoffs. Among the veterans who could wind up in that situation are Craig Wilson, Aaron Guiel and Nick Green.

Other players -- such as Darrell Rasner, Sean Henn, Jeff Karstens, T.J. Beam, Jose Veras, Wil Nieves and Kevin Thompson -- could be sent to the team's training complex in Tampa to work out in case the Yankees need to call on them in the later rounds of the postseason.

Pena to return: First-base coach Tony Pena, who left the Yankees before Thursday's game after learning of the death of his father, should return to New York on Saturday night and rejoin the team on Sunday for the season finale.

Pena has been replaced by special assignment instructor Rob Thomson for the past two games.

Coming up: The Yankees take on the Blue Jays on Saturday in the middle game of their three-game series, as Karstens opposes Shaun Marcum. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. ET.

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