Notes: Yankees activate Matsui
Wright optioned to Double-A to make room for left fielder
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Yankees are reassembling their roster bit by bit, and another piece fell into place on Monday when Hideki Matsui rejoined the lineup.
The left fielder had been on the disabled list since April 8 with a left hamstring strain. It took 10 days before he was able to run with no pain at all, but since then, Matsui said, he felt more than ready to return to action once his 15-day stint was up.
And though it was the second injury he'd overcome in the last six months, the 32-year-old Matsui wasn't concerned that the ailments would become a pattern.
"I have no doubts," Matsui said through his translator, Roger Kahlon. "I have no worries. The important thing is it is a fact that I got hurt, so it's important for me to just do whatever I need to do to recover it and come back from it 100 percent."
Chase Wright was optioned to Double-A Trenton to make room for Matsui on the roster. The left-hander was up for just two starts, surrendering home runs in four consecutive at-bats during a 7-6 loss to the Red Sox on Sunday night. Yankees manager Joe Torre made it clear, however, that Sunday's start was not the reason Wright was demoted.
"This was not a negative for him; he's a tough enough kid to be able to deal with this," Torre said.
Wright agreed, adding that the four homers were "unfortunate," but that he learned from the two games he played in pinstripes.
"I feel very fortunate to be in this situation, the first start to be in Yankee Stadium and the second one at Fenway [Park]," Wright said. "It was awesome.
"Once I found out that I was getting called up, that was pretty much a whirlwind, but once I got here, everybody was great and I was able to settle down and be myself, and they helped a lot."
Thumbs down: Injuries have now struck both the Yankees' starting and backup catchers, pushing starter Jorge Posada back to action a little sooner than previously expected.
Posada was back behind the plate on Monday night, though his left thumb was taped up and still visibly discolored and swollen. During Sunday's game, backup catcher Wil Nieves dislocated his left thumb. Trainers were able to pop the thumb back into place, allowing Nieves to remain on the field for another four innings. First baseman Josh Phelps then caught the final inning, marking his first appearance as a catcher in the Major Leagues in nearly five years.
Nieves had been filling in for Posada and was solid behind the plate but 0-for-15 in front of it, and the Yankees sorely missed Posada's .358 average (19-for-53) and 10-game hitting streak.
Posada missed the final two games against Boston with a bruised left thumb suffered while catching left-hander Andy Pettite on Friday.
Rotation, rotation: Yankees top prospect Phil Hughes got called into action and will pitch against the Blue Jays at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday. Because of the promotion, the pitching rotation will shuffle slightly. Pettite will start on Wednesday, and Jeff Karstens will take the mound on Friday.
Torre said that the remainder of the rotation will be determined based on what occurs during the rest of the week.
In other news: Carl Pavano threw a bullpen session before Monday's game and was optimistic when discussing his right forearm strain. "Before, it would grab and tighten [during throws]; now, it just grabs," Pavano said. "It is what it is, and it'll work itself out." Pavano has been on the disabled list since April 13. ... Johnny Damon was given the day off to relax his sore back and hamstring. The center fielder will be back in the lineup on Tuesday.
Up next: The Yankees will return to Tropicana Field for the finale of their two-game series the against the Devil Rays at 7:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday. The Yankees will hand the ball to Chien-Ming Wang (19-6, 3.63 ERA in 2006) for his first start of the season. The righty spent time on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. The Rays will counter with ace left-hander Scott Kazmir (1-1, 5.25 ERA).
Dawn Klemish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.