Torre anticipates difficulty playing Lofton, Williams

Updated: June 13, 2004, 5:55 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Kenny Lofton was activated from the disabled list Saturday by the New York Yankees, who designated second baseman Homer Bush for assignment.

Lofton, who had been out since May 28 with a strained left hamstring, was not in the starting lineup against the San Diego Padres but was available off the bench.

Yankees manager Joe Torre said the outfielder was a little sore from playing two games in a row during his minor league rehabilitation assignment.

But Torre also acknowledged it will be difficult to find playing time for Lofton in the near future because center fielder Bernie Williams has been hitting well.

Williams was in the leadoff spot Saturday for the third time this week. Before that, he had not batted leadoff since April 1996.

Lofton, who signed a $6.2 million, two-year contract with the Yankees in the offseason, wants to play every day. He's said he thinks his limited playing time has contributed to the leg injuries that have sent him to the DL twice this season.

"It's my responsibility to get him a game here and there," Torre said. "He wants to play -- and I'm a little suspect of people who pretend that they like to sit on the bench."

Lofton was hitting .278 with five RBIs, 13 runs scored and one stolen base.

Bush started two games at second base last weekend while Enrique Wilson was hurt. Called up from Triple-A Columbus on May 1, Bush went hitless in seven at-bats with the Yankees. He did steal a base and score twice.

The Yankees have 10 days to trade, release or assign Bush to the minors.

In other news, the Yankees were still not sure whether Mike Mussina or Kevin Brown would be able to make their next scheduled starts. Each left his last outing with an injury.

"We don't have an assessment as of yet. I think over the next three, four or five days we'll have this thing figured out," Torre said. "For certain, we're not going to -- knowingly, let's put it that way -- jeopardize either one of those guys by trying to rush them back."

Mussina came out as a precaution Friday night after only three innings with tightness in his right groin. He had the same injury during the 2002 playoffs.

"I've done it before and the recovery's not too bad," Mussina said.

Brown left his start Wednesday against Colorado with a strained back and plans to play catch Sunday.

The Yankees are off Monday, and right-hander Tanyon Sturtze could pitch in Brown's place Tuesday at Arizona.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press