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Yankees' Hideki Matsui restricted to DH until June

TAMPA — Hideki Matsui won't play in the outfield for the Yankees until at least interleague road games in June and will be restricted to DH and pinch-hitting appearances until then.

Matsui is recovering from left knee surgery he had Sept. 22. Manager Joe Girardi doesn't want to take the chance of a setback.

"The earliest we would need him in the outfield would be interleague, and that's a ways off," Girardi said Wednesday. "That's why we envision him as our everyday DH. We need him. He's a great RBI guy. He's very important to our lineup."

GOOD BREAK: Girardi was glad the Astros ended up allowing a DH after the Yankees thought RHP Chien-Mien Wang would have to hit. Wang missed 3½ months last season after hurting a foot running the bases in a game at Houston. Girardi said the team got a text message when it arrived saying a DH could be used, and it had Robinson Cano come over from Tampa.

Phils: Hamels upbeat

CLEARWATER — Though his pitching coach said it's unlikely he'll start on opening day, Phillies LHP Cole Hamels said that pitching the opener remains his goal.

"That's still my focus, to be ready for opening day," said Hamels, the World Series MVP. "I certainly want to pitch opening day."

An examination this week on Hamels' stiff left elbow showed only inflammation and no structural damage. Pitching coach Rich Dubee had called it a "long shot" that Hamels would be ready for the opener.

The pitcher tried to calm the nerves of Phillies fans.

"They have nothing to worry about," he said. "They don't need to jump on the bandwagon of freaking out."

HAPP LABORS: LHP J.A. Happ failed to improve his chances of earning the No. 5 rotation spot, giving up three runs and three hits in four innings of a 7-7 tie with the Blue Jays. Happ is competing with RHPs Chan Ho Park and Kyle Kendrick.

Jays: Bad impression

CLEARWATER — Blue Jays RHP Scott Richmond struggled to impress in his bid for a spot in the rotation.

Richmond entered in the fifth needing to retire Phillies pitcher Gary Majewski to end a rally, but Majewski singled to right to tie it at 4. In the seventh, Richmond gave up a 400-foot, three-run homer to Jayson Werth.

"I just didn't get it in far enough," Richmond said. "I was looking for a jam (and get) a double-play ball there. He's a good hitter. Sometimes you just have to tip your hat, you know?"

THE TEAMS

Blue Jays

at Yankees

7:15 tonight, George M. Steinbrenner Field, Tampa

Blue Jays: Dunedin Stadium, 373 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. Tickets: Call toll-free 1-888-525-5297 or (727) 733-0429 or online at bluejays.com.

Phillies: Bright House Field, 601 Old Coachman Road, Clearwater. Tickets: Call (727) 467-4457 or online at phillies.com.

Yankees: 1 Steinbrenner Drive, Tampa. Tickets: Call (813) 879-2244 or online at yankees.com.

Yankees' Hideki Matsui restricted to DH until June 03/18/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 19, 2009 3:24pm]
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