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WORLD SERIES NOTES

Giambi's Schedule: Series, then Surgery

October 25, 2003|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Yankee slugger Jason Giambi is scheduled for postseason knee surgery that could jeopardize his chance of starting next season on time. Nonetheless, Giambi is expected to return to the New York lineup for Game 6 of the World Series tonight.

General Manager Brian Cashman described the surgery as a diagnostic arthroscopic procedure. If doctors discover significant damage during arthroscopy and must cut the knee open to complete repairs, the rehabilitation period could extend into next spring.

"We'll know after the surgery," Cashman said.

With National League rules in force for Games 3-5 of the World Series, the Yankees moved Giambi from designated hitter to first base. After two games in the field, his troublesome left knee acted up, and the Yankees scratched him from their Game 5 lineup Thursday.

The Yankees sent him for an MRI examination Friday, and doctors diagnosed chronic tendinitis in the knee, Cashman said.

Giambi homered as a pinch-hitter Thursday. Cashman said he could serve as the DH in Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7 on Sunday.

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Yankee Manager Joe Torre said he anticipated that Roger Clemens would be available in relief for a possible Game 7 and that he hoped David Wells would be too.

Wells' recurrent disk problem flared Thursday, causing back spasms that forced him out of Game 5 after one inning. Although the teams did not work out Friday, Wells reported to Yankee Stadium and received treatment. He brushed past reporters without comment.

The Yankees had little warning, and little alternative, when Wells reported back stiffness during pregame warmups Thursday. Andy Pettitte, who could have started on three days' rest, already had returned to New York to prepare for tonight's game.

Torre said he had rejected the offer by Mike Mussina to start on one day's rest and said his alternatives were relievers Jose Contreras and Chris Hammond, who followed Wells to the mound anyway.

Wells, 40, started 30 games during the regular season, fighting a bad back most of the way and prodded by an incentive-laden contract that paid him $183,000 for every start after his 17th. That made for a $2.4-million bonus.

"He has been pitching with this condition since the summer," Cashman said. "Obviously, he had incentive at the end of the season to do so. Postseason, he's obviously not getting paid extra for taking those starts, but he's been pitching through it and pitching rather well....

"He's as big a competitor as you can find. For him not to be able to compete past one inning, no one would have been able to get past it if he couldn't."

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Torre said he had not decided whether to return second baseman Alfonso Soriano to the lineup. Soriano is hitting .158 in the World Series and has set a postseason record with 26 strikeouts, in 68 at-bats. He struck out as a pinch-hitter in Game 5.

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