Pitcher has nerve damage to right bicep
ST LOUIS -- It's looking less likely that Cardinals 15-game winner Chris Carpenter will pitch in the postseason.
The Cardinals have been without Carpenter since Sept. 18 -- the day they clinched the NL Central -- when he was sidelined with nerve damage in his right biceps.
Trainer Barry Weinberg said Carpenter, who would have been the team's Game 1 starter, had made "little improvements but nothing significant enough to start throwing."
"He'd have to get back to normal and he's not normal," Weinberg added.
Damon's head hurts
Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon is having a recurrence of migraine headaches that first bothered him after a collision in last year's playoffs.
Damon is not expected to miss any playing time.
"The first two months of the offseason, I had migraines every day," he said Thursday, an off-day in Boston's AL division series against the Anaheim Angels. "I started having them again last night."
Damon collided with second baseman Damian Jackson when both raced for a popup in short center during the first-round series against Oakland last season. Jackson was on the ground for a few minutes, but an unconscious Damon stayed there for nine minutes as several teammates prayed.
He missed the first two games of last year's ALCS against the New York Yankees and, after getting three hits in Game 3, he went 1-for-17 the rest of the way. But the injury doesn't seem to have affected him this year, when he batted .304 with 123 runs, 20 homers and 94 RBIs as a leadoff man.
"Physically, I'm all right," Damon said. "I just have that headache thing again."
Twins second baseman Luis Rivas probably won't play the rest of the series because of a sore elbow.
"It really bothers him swinging," manager Ron Gardenhire said.
That leaves the job to Michael Cuddyer, 4-for-8 with a run and an RBI and solid in the field so far. But because starter Carlos Silva is a groundball pitcher, Gardenhire was contemplating starting Augie Ojeda at second base to give the Twins a better glove in Game 3.
Lofton, a 14-year veteran who signed a $6.2 million, two-year contract with the Yankees in the offseason, had a .346 on-base percentage and scored 51 runs this season. He complained earlier in the year about his limited playing time -- he played in 83 regular-season games this year.
Lofton was in good spirits in the clubhouse Thursday.
"I just want to play, that's all I want to do," Lofton said.
One at a time
Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia chose not to name a starter for a potential Game 4 of the series against Boston.
"I could sit here and tell you we are going to go with [John] Lackey, but Lackey might have to help us win [Friday]," he said. "Obviously, there is no need to save anybody. So we are not going to hold anything back."
Lackey was 14-13 with a 4.67 ERA this season. He made one relief appearance during the regular season and 32 starts.
The Red Sox haven't announced their Game 4 starter, either. They are expected to go with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who was 12-10 with a 4.87 ERA.
Orlando Hernandez and Javier Vazquez awaited word on which one would start Game 4 for the Yankees. Hernandez, who has been complaining of a tired arm, appears to have the edge over Vazquez.
"[El] Duque gave me a thumbs up today, which is a good sign," Torre said.
Hernandez said in the clubhouse that he felt OK, but said he needed more time to get ready.
"I want to go to the mound, but when I'm feeling good," he said.
Torre originally considered making Hernandez his Game 3 starter, but he chose Brown over Vazquez with Duque ailing. Vazquez, an All-Star this year, has only one win in nine starts since Aug. 6.
"I'm disappointed the way I pitched in the second half. I'm not disappointed in the decision, because I know if I would have done a better job I would've been there earlier," Vazquez said. "I still feel like I can help this team. Hopefully I'll get the chance."
John Thomson had a successful stint in the bullpen and is on track to start for the Braves on Saturday in Game 3 of the division series against Houston.
Thomson left his last regular-season start after just three innings with a pulled a muscle in his side, and was bumped back from his scheduled start in Game 2.
Manager Bobby Cox, pitching coach Leo Mazzone and trainer Jeff Porter watched as Thomson threw in the bullpen.
Porter said Thomson "can still feel" the muscle pull.
"He's still not 100 percent," Porter said. "But he's only going to get better. ... The rebound the next day is always a consideration. I expect it to be good."
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is in the last year of his contract, but he's not anxious to test the market.
He figures to return for his 10th season in St. Louis.
"I'll tell you what, if we win the world championship, I'll manage for free," La Russa said. "And I'm not laughing. You can write it. It's the truth."
This is La Russa's 10th trip to the postseason, and he's savoring it.
"Part of the enjoyment of this thing is to every once in a while look around and check the scene out," La Russa said. "It's such a wonderful experience and it's such a treat to be a part of it.
"But you'd better just do that a little bit. You'd be a fool to not understand everything that goes on with it."
Cox said the bruised shin pitcher Jaret Wright suffered in Wednesday's game would not threaten his status for a possible Game 5 start. Wright already was recovering from a foot injury.
Meanwhile, Cox had two starting lineups ready Thursday -- one without Chipper Jones, who has a bruised right hand.
Jones was able to start but was 0-for-4, leaving him 0-for-8 in the series. Cox had a second lineup ready with Marcus Giles moving from second to third and Nick Green moving into the lineup at second base.
Braves starter Mike Hampton, who left the game in the seventh inning with tightness in his left forearm, said the problem is not serious.
Astros manager Phil Garner was given an "interim" title when he was hired on July 14.
Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell says he hopes the interim part of the title is dropped.
"I don't see how it could not," Bagwell said. "When you take over a team that's .500 and you get to about four games under and then all of a sudden to be 22 games over, to make the playoffs, I think Phil deserves it. That's probably going to be up to Phil, if Phil wants to continue to be our manager."
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press
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