The New York Yankees now have the best record in baseball, so they're not taking any chances on the health of players that could take them deep into October.
According to a report on MLB.com on Sunday, Mariano Rivera will not pitch off a mound for at least a week as he works his way back from a muscle strain near his right elbow.
The closer played catch with pitching coach Ron Guidry before the Yankees' 9-4 win over the Orioles in Baltimore. He threw nearly 40 pitches at what he deemed 70-75 percent.
"I feel good, much better," Rivera told MLB.com. "I would say this time was twice as good as before. There's a lot of improvement, but it's still a little tight. I threw more this time, and harder. It's improving, which is the good thing."
Torre was encouraged by Rivera's performance.
"We're in a position right now to get it all the way out," Joe Torre told MLB.com. "There was no tightness starting out, so we're going in the right direction."
Rivera won't pitch on Monday and won't take a mound until at least Thursday.
"We'll have to see how it feels tomorrow and how I recuperate," Rivera said. "If everything is OK tomorrow, we'll go forward. That's what I'm expecting."
Yankees designated hitter Jason Giambi is also in limbo. He missed his second straight game on Sunday with a sore
left wrist, but the team might have a replacement if he misses much more time.
According to a The New York Times report Saturday, Giambi was examined by hand specialist Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser who told the slugger that he had done more damage to the wrist, which had been plagued by tendinitis. Giambi received his second cortisone shot since Aug. 31 on Saturday and was told to rest in order to let the injection work.
Giambi was 0-for-3 Friday before being removed for a pinch hitter in the ninth inning. He has four hits in his last 31 at-bats.
"It's getting to be too late to take any chances," Giambi told the Times. "I've got to get back to being a factor in a game instead of just a name in the lineup."
Yankees manager Joe Torre may get some help soon, however. Hideki Matsui, who broke his left wrist May 11 and has recently been rehabbing in Trenton, could play as soon as Monday.
"I think you could find a spot to get him an at-bat," Torre told the Times. "I don't think any of us know. He's never done this before. He's liable to hit four line drives and just be ready as can be. I think we'd be tempted. With Jason down for a couple of days, why not give it a shot?"
Meanwhile, third baseman Alex Rodriguez also missed his second game in a row because he felt ill.
"It's weird. The last time we were here, it was the same exact thing," Torre said Saturday. "I don't know if he's eating at the same place or what. Whatever the heck it is, it certainly hasn't worked very well."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.