Surgery? TBA; Wells' option not picked up

Updated: November 4, 2003, 9:01 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter played the AL championship series and the World Series with a ruptured tendon in his left thumb.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman made the disclosure Tuesday after the team's news conference to announce Don Mattingly's return as hitting coach.

Cashman said the team will wait about two more weeks to determine whether the tendon, injured in the opener of the series against the Boston Red Sox, can heal with about three weeks of rest. If it doesn't, it would require surgery.

"We've just got to do some more tests, we'll see,'' Jeter said.

The shortstop, who became the Yankees' captain in June, said he will not need surgery on his left shoulder, which he dislocated on opening day at Toronto.

Cashman said first baseman Jason Giambi had chosen Anaheim Angels team physician Dr. Lewis Yocum to repair a ligament in his left knee. Giambi, who may have arthroscopic surgery next week, played with an inflamed tendon and patella tendinitis, Cashman said during the World Series.

In other news, the Yankees declined David Wells' $6 million option but said they have not decided whether they want the 40-year-old left-hander back next season. Cashman also said left-hander Felix Heredia declined his $1.7 million option.

Wells gets a $1 million buyout as part of the deal he agreed to in January 2002. Including performance bonuses, he earned $14.5 million over two years.

He went 15-7 with a 4.14 ERA, but was bothered by back trouble and came out after just one inning of Game 5 of the World Series against Florida. The injury will require additional medical examination, Cashman said.

Cashman also said the team had not decided whether to negotiate another deal with Wells, who angered the Yankees during spring training with his inflammatory autobiography and was fined $100,000.

New York has not yet started negotiations with Andy Pettitte, who is eligible to join Wells as a free agent.

"He's come this far. He's going to find out what his market value is,'' Cashman said. "I don't want to say worried, but I've got to concede it's possible that he may not be here.''

Heredia, claimed off waivers from Cincinnati on Aug. 25, gets a $325,000 buyout as part of his deal. He went 0-1 with a 1.20 ERA in 12 appearances.

New York hopes to re-sign Heredia and left-hander Gabe White. On Friday, the Yankees declined White's $3.5 million option, electing to pay a $250,000 buyout.

Cashman has not yet started calling agents for free agents the Yankees are interested in, but has spoken with agents who called him. New York also has monitored Cuban pitcher Maels Rodriguez, who defected last month.

As of now, New York's projected rotation includes Mike Mussina, Jose Contreras and Jeff Weaver, who is viewed as a fifth starter. Jon Lieber also could return, though he hasn't pitched in the major leagues since reconstructive elbow surgery in August 2002.

Weaver, 7-9 with a 5.99 ERA, was sent to Tampa, Fla., to work with pitching instructor Billy Connors. Cashman called it "rehabbing.''

"What he showed this year is not what he is,'' Cashman said. "I've already had trade offers on him, to be honest, but I can't get value on him given the season he had. Hopefully, Billy can get into his head a little bit.''

Given the holes in the rotation following the retirement of Roger Clemens and the possible departures of Pettitte and Wells, free agents such as Bartolo Colon and Sidney Ponson could become targets for the Yankees.

"Pitching is the biggest issue for us,'' Cashman said.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE