Jeter, Matsui back in Yanks' lineup
Veterans had been bothered by nagging injuries recently
TORONTO -- The Yankees received a double dose of good news on Thursday, welcoming both Derek Jeter and Hideki Matsui back to the lineup for the finale of a six-game road trip.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi had said that he was not expecting Jeter to be available until the beginning of a homestand on Friday, but the shortstop took batting practice Thursday at Rogers Centre and reported his sore right oblique felt playable.
"I just had to know that he felt OK," Girardi said. "He took some early BP down in the cage and said that he wasn't having an issue. He felt comfortable to play. That's one thing that Derek understands -- if he can't swing, he can't play."
Jeter had said that the oblique was bothering him last week, but he continued playing through the weekend series at Baltimore. Jeter did not appear in either of the first two games against the Blue Jays and said that the rash of walking wounded for the Yankees was not completely foreign.
"It's annoying, but if you go around the league, there's a lot of teams that have the same thing," Jeter said. "It's not really like it's one of those years out of the ordinary. Sometimes you lose a lot of people at once, but other teams lose people throughout the year."
In addition to missing Jeter and Matsui, the Yankees have been playing without catchers Jorge Posada (strained right hamstring) and Jose Molina (strained left quadriceps), plus outfielder Xavier Nady (partially torn right elbow liganment) in their everyday lineup. They have also lost infielder Cody Ransom to a quadriceps injury.
"It is certainly frustrating," Matsui said. "There could be a lot of different causes for that, the change in weather being one. You just have to do the best you can to keep yourself healthy."
Matsui batted once in the series against the Blue Jays, feeling his hamstring tighten as he ran out a ground ball against Roy Halladay in the second inning Tuesday. He reported the injury immediately, and Girardi believed that honesty kept the designated hitter from needing a disabled-list stint.
"We're real fortunate, because hamstrings can be bad," Girardi said. "I think the thing that we did with Matsui is that it was a little tight and we got it before he did something more.
"I think that was extremely important, for a player to tell someone when they feel something. Sometimes players don't want to come out of a game, and I completely understand that. But I think that might have saved Matsui."
The Yankees do not expect to have left-handed reliever Phil Coke (stiff back) until Friday's series opener against the Minnesota Twins, but he has remained with the team and is continuing to receive treatment.
Girardi said that Posada has traveled to Tampa, Fla., and Molina remains in New York, with it too early to start the clock on either player, leaving Francisco Cervelli and Kevin Cash as the Yankees' catching tandem for now.
But right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (weakness in abductor muscles of hips) is set to make a second rehabilitation start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday and could be considered for promotion after that start if his sinker shows improvement.
"You'd like to have all your weapons back," Girardi said. "It seems like our guys are getting healthier."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.