TAMPA, Fla. -- Hank Steinbrenner remains optimistic the New York Yankees can make a playoff push despite a rash of injuries to key players in the first half.
Outfielders Johnny Damon (sprained left shoulder) and Hideki Matsui (knee) are on the 15-day disabled list, and staff ace Chien-Ming Wang (right foot) is out until at least September. Reliever Brian Bruney is also out with a foot injury.
"With what we've got in place right now, we still should be able to make a run," team co-chairman Steinbrenner said Monday night. "We're without Wang, our 19-game winner. That's the biggest blow. We're without Damon for a little while, but he'll be back. Matsui wlll probably be back. It's been a bad year for injuries. The fans got to remember that. Don't get discouraged. Injuries do happen."
The Yankees are 8½ games behind AL East-leading Tampa Bay, which opens a two-game series at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night. New York started Monday four games back in the AL wild-card race.
"We have been decimated by injuries," Steinbrenner said. "I don't remember a year this bad as far as injuries. It's had a huge affect, it really has. Nobody wants to make excuses, but it's reality.
"In any sport, I don't care what it is. Soccer, baseball, basketball, football, there's only two things that come under the heading of luck: injuries and bad officiating," Steinbrenner said. "You just hope you don't get the injuries, and we've had them this year."
In other news, Steinbrenner declined to address 11-game winner Mike Mussina's omission from the AL All-Star team.
"I really don't want to comment on other people's selections," Steinbrenner said. "He's been great for us this year. He's done a great job."