Matsui hitting second; Bernie dropped to eighth

Updated: April 24, 2004, 5:15 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Torre moved Hideki Matsui into the second spot in the lineup Saturday and dropped Bernie Willams to eighth against the Boston Red Sox in an effort to get New York's struggling offense on track.

Matsui has recently been one of the only bright spots for the Yankees, who are next to last in the American League with a .228 batting average. He hit a two-run homer in an 11-2 loss to Boston on Friday and has four hits in his last eight at-bats, raising his average to .293. Only Jorge Posada is hitting better (.314) among the regulars.

"I'm just trying to generate something," Torre said. "He's swinging the bat real well. He either bats second or seventh. Hopefully, he'll get more swings."

Mastui will bat second for the third time this season and Williams will be in the No. 8 spot for the second time as the Yankees face Bronson Arroyo for the second time this week.

Williams is in a 1-for-26 slide over the last six games and is hitting just .192 with no home runs. He missed several weeks during spring training when he had his appendix removed and didn't travel to Japan for the Yankees' season-opening trip.

"He is in that line of frustrated people," Torre said. "Bernie now is just trying to get in shape."

Williams isn't the only star hitting near or below .200 in a lineup that was upgraded in the offseason with the additions of MVP Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield.

Rodriguez appears to be slowly emerging from one of the deepest slumps of his career that bottomed out in Boston last weekend with a 1-for-17 performance. He was 5-for-13 in Chicago, including his second homer of the year, and went 2-for-4 Friday night against the Red Sox.

But Derek Jeter (in a 1-for-21 slide and hitting just .197), Sheffield (.267 and one homer) and Jason Giambi (.213) are all still finding their rhythm at the plate.

"I think it's just the fact that we're not winning as much as we'd like to," Torre said of the 8-9 Yankees, "and people are taking on too much responsibility."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press