DENVER (AP) -Johnny Damon might be headed to the disabled list for the first time in his career.
The New York Yankees' designated hitter and former center fielder has been bothered since last week by a strained abdominal muscle, which he aggravated Tuesday while taking cuts in the batting cage at Coors Field.
``Especially with this last incident yesterday, it's something that we have to consider,'' manager Joe Torre said after speaking with GM Brian Cashman on Wednesday. ``I just said, let's see how he feels these next couple of days and we'll have to make a decision.''
Damon took batting practice before the Yankees' game against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night.
``He said it felt a little bit better today, but we'll have to see how much better and how it affects his performance,'' Torre said.
Melky Cabrera started in center field Wednesday night. Damon, also slowed by leg injuries, has been serving as the team's designated hitter in the absence of injured Jason Giambi, but the Yankees can't use a DH in NL parks.
``Obviously, I'd like to be very healthy, but that damn voodoo doll that somebody has of me, they're getting a pretty good laugh,'' Damon said.
Damon was a late-inning replacement at first base Tuesday night and got a couple of at-bats despite feeling pain with every swing. Torre hopes Damon feels good enough to play in the outfield Thursday because he's had success against Rockies right-hander Rodrigo Lopez (3-0).
``He's still a threat and has good at-bats,'' Torre said. ``Now, is it going to get worse? That's something I can't give you an answer to. Again, I think if it keeps popping up and it keeps him from being able to do his work, then I think (putting him on the disabled list is) something we have to seriously talk about.''
Damon, who got hurt Friday, said he hasn't had an MRI or any other medical tests.
``I know what it is. It's an ab strain that's right on the rib bone. It's something that's just there and probably will remain to be there unless I do absolutely nothing.''
And that's not what he wants to do.
``I feel even a beat-up me is better than no me at all,'' Damon said.
Damon has learned to live with nagging injuries before.
``Anybody who goes out and plays the game hard like he has for so many years, you know darn well he doesn't get up every morning saying, 'Boy, I feel great,''' Torre said. ``And the fact he's had that reputation of, first off, not being on the DL and going out there and playing ... you certainly understand that he's had to deal with some discomfort for probably a good portion of his career.''
In other injury news Wednesday, highly regarded rookie Phil Hughes continued throwing in the outfield at the Yankees' minor league complex in Florida with a boot on his sprained left ankle. Hughes hurt the ankle on May 25 while doing an agility drill during a rehab program for a strained left hamstring. The hamstring injury occurred May 1 while Hughes was working on a no-hit bid during the seventh inning against Texas in his second major league start.
And Jeff Karstens, coming back from a broken right leg, threw for 15 minutes off a bullpen mound. The right-hander has been out since being hit in the leg by a liner off the bat of Boston's Julio Lugo on April 28.
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