"It only hurts when I stand," Damon said.
Damon entered Saturday's contest with the Red Sox batting .242 with one home run and eight RBIs, and said that he does not yet believe he would be hurting the team by continuing to play.
"I feel like I can go out there and put together some good at-bats," Damon said. "If it starts affecting me, I'm not going to hurt the team. I'm hoping I can do this and start dropping bombs and scoring some runs."
If a situation did arise where Damon found himself leaving games early, however, he said he would more strongly entertain the possibility of going on the disabled list.
"As long as I can go out there and try to help this team win right now, I think that's the most important thing," Damon said. "I don't want to think about it, but if I can [only] go five or six innings per day, that's going to hurt the team. Right now, I'm starting to feel better, so I'll grind it out as much as I can."
Damon said that his body has experienced a chain reaction of neck and back injuries dating back to a violent collision with infielder Damian Jackson while pursuing a fly ball for Boston in the 2003 AL Division Series.
Damon suffered a concussion on the play and continues to have periodic headaches, which he believes are related to that collision. He said that chiropractic adjustments usually relieve the pain, which he thinks could also be related to day-to-day baseball activities.
"Your body does get out of whack with what we do," Damon said. "We're running all the time, we slide and we do a lot of things that most people don't. It causes our body to get out of alignment."
The Yankees played Jason Giambi at first base for Saturday's game, allowing Damon to be utilized as a designated hitter while Melky Cabrera patrolled center field.
"We talked to Johnny, and Johnny's pretty open about everything," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He's dealing with some issues. He feels it's getting better; his legs seem to be getting better. His back gets stiff, [but] he gets loose before he goes out. It's something he has to deal with."
History repeats: The Yankees' slow start has reminded many in the dugout and clubhouse of the club's opening acts in 2005, when the Yankees fared 11-19 in their first 30 games.
While general manager Brian Cashman acknowledges some parallels between the two disappointing beginnings, he is somewhat encouraged by the fact that the Yankees do expect to receive production from the injured players who are currently without the team. That wasn't necessarily the case two years ago.
"I think the difference in '05 was that we had veterans who were underperforming," Cashman said. "This year, we have veterans that are on the disabled list. That's the difference -- what ailed the '05 team was a lack of performance in healthy bodies.
"What's ailing the '07 team right now is, basically, we got hit with a rash of injuries and dealing with those injuries is more difficult than what we hoped."
Perhaps the most notable roster move made early in that early-season skid was the decision to promote second baseman Robinson Cano, believing that he would provide more production than veteran Tony Womack.
The Yankees also promoted Chien-Ming Wang to help their starting rotation in 2005, a move that is believed to have opened the club's doors and collective minds to playing more youthful talent like Cabrera and several pitchers.
"I don't know if I can compare one with the other," Torre said, speaking of the early-season exploits of 2005 and 2007. "The fact that it's the beginning of the season, you understand what will take care of it -- go on a little positive streak and all of a sudden you say, 'How'd this happen?'"
Early exit: The plan was for left-hander Kei Igawa to remain in the bullpen as long relief insurance all weekend, but the Yankees were forced to enact that policy early on Saturday.
Right-hander Jeff Karstens -- who was selected to pitch Saturday over Igawa, stemming from Igawa's shaky outing on Monday against the Rays -- left after just six pitches, as Karstens' first pitch was lined back at the hurler's right leg by Boston leadoff batter Julio Lugo.
After a brief mound examination, Karstens remained in the game to face Kevin Youkilis, but was lifted after surrendering a single to left. Igawa was called into the game and retired the Red Sox without scoring in the first, continuing on to pitch.
Start the clocks: The Yankees may soon have a timetable on injured right-hander Carl Pavano, who is scheduled to throw off a mound on Sunday. Pavano, 31, has been sidelined with right forearm tightness and had been limited to simply tossing on flat ground.
"It's just obviously steps toward progress," Cashman said.
Coming up: The Yankees and Red Sox play the final game of their three-game weekend series on Sunday, sending Wang (0-1, 5.68 ERA) to the hill for his second start of the season. Boston counters with right-hander Julian Tavarez (0-2, 8.36 ERA), with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.