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RED SOX-YANKEE REPORT

Damon's Status Still Up in Air

October 08, 2003|From Times Wire Services

Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon was discharged from an Oakland hospital Tuesday and instead of joining his teammates in New York, went to Boston to see a neurologist.

Damon's concussion is expected to keep him out for at least part of the American League championship series against the Yankees.

He was injured in a collision with second baseman Damian Jackson in Game 5 on Monday night and was unconscious for several minutes before being removed on a stretcher.

Manager Grady Little tried to be upbeat about the condition of his leadoff man.

"We certainly feel like he'll be ready to play before the series is over," Little said Tuesday. "Whether he's ready to play tomorrow, we're not sure right now. He did suffer a pretty severe concussion out there and he was taking some more tests this morning. Hopefully, he'll be ready to get back in a couple of days."

In the meantime, Little said he would use Gabe Kapler in center field to replace Damon. Kapler batted .291 in 158 at-bats after coming to the Red Sox in midseason.

Boston General Manager Theo Epstein would not rule out Damon.

"I'm not saying it's a loss yet," he said. "Let's wait and see."

Playing without Damon for any length of time would have a major impact on Boston's chances against the Yankees.

"It would be tough," second baseman Todd Walker said. "He's a big part of this team. Without him, it would be difficult. From what we hear, things are fairly good."

First baseman Kevin Millar said as important as Damon is to the Red Sox, the team does not depend on one or two players.

"It's been amazing," he said. "There's a lot of character and a lot of chemistry in this clubhouse."

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Little will start knuckleballer Tim Wakefield in tonight's opener against Mike Mussina, with Derek Lowe set for Game 2 and Pedro Martinez in Game 3 on Saturday in Boston. Yankee Manager Joe Torre will use the same pitching rotation he used in his team's series against the Minnesota Twins, with Andy Pettitte starting the second game, followed by Roger Clemens and David Wells.

"I didn't have anything strong enough to make me change that," Torre said at Yankee Stadium.

Wakefield started four games against the Yankees during the regular season, going 2-2 with a 3.96 earned-run average. Both of his victories came in starts at Yankee Stadium.

"I'm going to approach it just like I did during the year," Wakefield said. "They have a tough lineup and are pretty deep one to nine."

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Boston officials pledged to crack down on rowdy behavior after Red Sox fans poured into the streets Monday, a celebration that led to property damage and seven arrests.

At least one car near Fenway Park was flipped on its top, some fans jumped onto the roof of an ambulance and others rocked moving taxis. Witnesses said beer bottles were thrown from rooftops of nearby buildings.

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