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Mientkiewicz injured by cameraman, still starts for Yankees vs. Indians

CLEVELAND -- Doug Mientkiewicz lasted just four innings. The
cameraman was done even sooner.

The Yankees first baseman accidentally got tangled up with a TV
cameraman and injured his left ankle hours before the New York's
playoff opener Thursday night against the Cleveland Indians.

Mientkiewicz, who's had problems with that ankle in the past,
started the game. He popped out in his only at-bat and was replaced
by pinch-hitter Shelly Duncan in the fifth inning of New York's
12-3 loss.

"He came out because we were down in the game and I was trying
to get something started," manager Joe Torre said. "He was
limping a little bit after he came out, but hopefully he'll be all
right. Hopefully."

The cameraman, a freelancer hired from the Cleveland area, was
fired by the YES Network. The network did not reveal his name.

The accident occurred while Mientkiewicz was walking up a ramp
at Jacobs Field. The cameraman was recording while backpedaling.

"My left foot was up, and he fell kind of right on the back of
my heel. My ankle rolled," Mientkiewicz said before the game.
"It's going to deter [me] from stealing like 15 bases.

"I rolled it pretty good, but it's all right."

Torre was satisfied with Mientkiewicz's condition after a
pregame workout.

"We tested him every which way, up and down," Torre said. "He
ran in the outfield and he looked fine during batting practice.
It's not going to hurt his speed, we know that."

Mientkiewicz had to have a screw inserted into the ankle after
he broke it years ago. Initially, he was worried after the
accident.

"I thought I was dead [as far as playing]," he said. "I've
had a lot of damage to that left foot."

YES spokesman Eric Handler said the cameraman had completed his
shoot and had been told to shut down.

"Unbeknownst to us he continued to shoot," Handler said.
"Because he did not follow instructions, and because it was his
not following instructions that caused the accident, he was
relieved of his duties."

In the lineup primarily for his defense, Mientkiewicz has the
second-highest fielding percentage (.996) among first basemen with
500 or more career games and won a Gold Glove in 2001.

He said he felt bad for the cameraman.

"I don't want him to get fired. Accidents happen, especially
for me. Everything happens to me," Mientkiewicz said.

Mientkiewicz injured his wrist June 2 in a collision with
Boston's Mike Lowell. He had surgery and returned to the Yankees
Sept. 1 and hit .429 (18-for-42) with a home run and eight RBIs in
22 games during the season's final month.