Notes: Jeter back in lineup

Notes: Jeter back in lineup

NEW YORK -- Just as he'd promised, Derek Jeter was in the Yankees' starting lineup Saturday, one day after fouling an Adam Loewen offering off of his right foot.

"It feels fine," Jeter said.

Jeter played eight innings in the Yankees' 6-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Friday with what was later diagnosed to be a bruised middle toe.

Noticeably limping and grimacing as he ran the bases, Jeter was lifted in the ninth inning for defensive replacement Miguel Cairo and was sent for X-rays, which came back negative.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said Jeter is being considered day-to-day and that the team was fortunate nothing had been found structurally wrong with Jeter's foot, though there wouldn't have been much the club could have done to prevent that circumstance.

"The good news is that it's not something where there's a strained muscle or something like that," Torre said. "This is going to be pain, [and] it's not a matter of if it's something that's going to get worse."

Jeter refuted a New York Post report that claimed the shortstop had pulled third-base coach Larry Bowa aside during Friday's defeat, informing Bowa that Jeter's back was also bothering him.

Jeter, who went 2-for-5 in the game -- including his 2,154th career hit, surpassing Don Mattingly for sixth place on the Yankees' all-time hits list -- said his only physical issue was the bruised toe.

"My back's good," Jeter said. "My back's fine, thanks."

Doug's icy hot: Doug Mientkiewicz hitting has been a bit of paradox since Spring Training -- he's cold when it's hot, and hot when it's cold.

After batting a paltry .157 in 62 Grapefruit League at-bats, the first baseman began his 2007 campaign on a warm note, going 3-for-5 through temperatures dipping into the 30s.

While Mientkiewicz said it's too early to emphasize his batting statistics, he noted that his .600 average could be cut by more than half after Saturday's game, when he got the nod against Baltimore right-hander Steve Trachsel.

The beginning of the season isn't the right time to judge a player, he said.

"You just give yourself a chance, and I've done that for the at-bats I've had this year," Mientkiewicz said. "Hopefully it stays, but as soon as you think you've got it licked, it comes back and bites you. You just try to work hard every day, go to the plate and have a plan and have good at-bats. Success will be there."

With Baltimore slated to throw a left-hander Sunday, Mientkiewicz will likely find himself back on the bench, with platoon partner Josh Phelps getting the nod at first base.

"We both have a job to do and we're there for each other to help each other out," Mientkiewicz said. "Josh has been in the bigs before. He's had success here. He knows what it takes to be successful."

The upcoming series at Minnesota will showcase three right-handers, though, a trip that could prove enjoyable for Mientkiewicz, a former Twin.

In the Henn house: Left-hander Sean Henn made the Yankees' roster after a strong spring, outpitching non-roster invitee Ron Villone.

He made his 2007 debut in strong fashion on Friday, twirling three scoreless innings at the Orioles, but the former starter said he's still continuing to adjust to his newfound relief role.

"What I've learned being in the bullpen is not to get too high on the highs and not too low on the lows," Henn said. "You're going to be stuck in there again soon. It definitely feels good just to be throwing like that early, because it gives you a little kick in the [rear] to start the season. It reassures you that you belong here."

Henn said that the recent frigid temperatures have not -- contrary to popular belief -- been beneficial to the pitchers. Thirty-seven runs were scored in three games at Yankee Stadium this season, with seven more runs coming home in the first two innings Saturday.

"The balls are rock-hard and it's tough to get a grip," Henn said. "The wind is blowing and it dries your hand out. It's like there's baby powder all over the ball."

Almost ready: Center fielder Johnny Damon, who has been sidelined since Monday with a right calf strain, may be close to returning to action.

Damon was considered available to the Yankees in a pinch-hitting or reserve role for Saturday's game, and could return to starting action on Sunday or Monday.

Torre said that he would consider the lefty-lefty matchup with Baltimore slated to pitch Erik Bedard on Sunday, but is pleased with the progress Damon has made -- particularly because a disabled list stint had been considered a realistic possibility earlier in the week.

"He's very close right now," Torre said.

Take a day: Torre said that the Yankees would try to stay away from using right-hander Scott Proctor in Saturday's contest. Proctor finished up Friday's loss to the Orioles with 1 1/3 scoreless innings and -- one season after leading the American League in appearances -- has now appeared in two of New York's first three games.

"If you asked him, he'd be available for us," Torre said.

Coming up: The Yankees play the third and final game of their weekend series against the Orioles on Sunday, with right-hander Darrell Rasner (3-1, 4.43 ERA in 2006) making the start for New York. Left-hander Erik Bedard (0-1, 11.57 ERA) makes his second appearance of the campaign for Baltimore, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

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