Yanks confident Chamberlain, Matsui will make returns soon

Updated: August 16, 2008, 11:24 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi was optimistic Saturday that injured right-hander Joba Chamberlain could be back soon, but a timetable still hasn't been set.





The same goes for designated hitter Hideki Matsui, who homered in Class A Tampa's doubleheader Friday. Matsui went 1-for-3, including a line drive single to right, and a walk in his third rehab game for Tampa on Saturday night.

Matsui is scheduled to take part in a simulated game Sunday and then return to New York, raising the possibility he might rejoin the team for a road trip that starts Tuesday in Toronto.

"I really haven't been told anything," Matsui said through a translator. "The only think I really have been told is to go back. I don't know how much I can help them, but I know I'll give my best to do whatever I can to help the team out."

Chamberlain is on the 15-day disabled list with rotator cuff tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. He threw for the first time Friday, making 25 tosses from about 65 feet, and threw a few more before the Yankees played the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.

"It was better than yesterday," Chamberlain said. "Just a few more throws, but I got looser quicker."

The 22-year-old was removed from his start Aug. 4 against Texas in the fifth inning with stiffness in his shoulder, the latest setback for a rotation ravaged by injuries. Chien-Ming Wang was still on crutches with his injured right foot in a boot on Saturday, and Phil Hughes also has been sidelined for much of the year.

Chamberlain, who is 4-3 with a 2.63 ERA in 32 games -- 12 starts -- plans to take Sunday off before throwing again on Monday, when the Yankees have an off day before starting a six-game trip to Toronto and Baltimore.

"We don't want to rush this young man," Girardi said. "If you don't have him healthy, it doesn't do any good to put him out there."

Matsui, who's been out since June 27 with an injured left knee, homered in his first minor league rehab game for his only hit in Friday's doubleheader. But he hit several other balls hard and reported no problems running the bases.

Matsui is batting .323 with seven homers and 34 RBIs in 69 games this season.

"He did hit a home run, and it was not wind-blown. It was a legitimate hit," Girardi said.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press