Boone optimistic about knee injury

Updated: January 31, 2004, 4:05 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Yankee third baseman Aaron Boone doesn't believe his sophomore season in the Bronx ended on a basketball court in California.

"I plan on being back this year," he told The New York Daily News in a telephone interview Friday. "Definitely. I'm going to be back."

Boone refused to comment on whether participating in a pickup basketball game violated the terms of his contract, perhaps costing all or part of his $5.75 million salary. But he was hopeful about his future with the Yankees.

"I don't know what is going to happen," he told the Daily News. "There's a lot that has to be worked out. But I sure hope (to stay). It is where I want to be."

Initial reports said Boone injured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee, possibly tearing it. Boone's agent, Adam Katz, said earlier this week it would be 7-10 days before the swelling in the knee diminished enough to get a final diagnosis, but the third baseman's confidence about returning this year could be an indication he believes he hasn't torn the ACL.

GM Brian Cashman confirmed to the Daily News that the Yankees had received copies of an MRI performed shortly after Boone's accident, but said he was not prepared to discuss what the exam showed. Cashman said he wanted to wait until further tests were done before commenting on the severity of the injury.

Still, the Yankees seem to think it's possible Boone might return this season.

"I can't go full-throttle trying to find a replacement (for Boone) until I know for sure what sort of time period we're talking about," Cashman told the newspaper. "He's a battler. He's hoping for the best situation, just like we all are."

If Boone's ACL requires surgery, he'll likely need at least six months of recovery time. That would put a possible return near the end of July, roughly 100 games into the season.

There have been a few instances of athletes coming back more quickly, but in addition to getting his knee healthy, Boone would also have to get himself into game shape.

While waiting for the final word on his player's knee, Cashman will continue to hunt for help. The most likely scenario would be a trade -- the Dodgers' Adrian Beltre and Milwaukee's Wes Helms are logical candidates -- but it can be difficult to deal so close to spring training.

"I'm not interested in moving Helms, or anyone really," Brewers GM Doug Melvin told the Daily News. "At this point most guys just want to see what they have. Most people aren't looking to (trade for) prospects right now."

Barring another move, Cashman will bring Enrique Wilson, Miguel Cairo and recently signed Tyler Houston to Tampa in hopes of finding Boone's replacement.

Boone just hopes that sub is temporary.

"I can do it," he said. "I'll be back."

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