Notes: Torre sticks with ailing Matsui
After going 0-for-4 in ALDS opener, veteran in lineup as DH
CLEVELAND -- Yankees manager Joe Torre has always been partial to the veterans who have produced for him in big spots, owning an appreciation that goes as far as his memory.
So Torre was not dissuaded by Hideki Matsui's four unproductive at-bats in Game 1 of the American League Division Series, opting to keep the 33-year-old in the lineup for the second game against the Indians and right-hander Fausto Carmona.
"He's healthy and feels fine," Torre said. "He just needs to find that groove right now, as far as I'm concerned. The time that he's been here, five years, I don't think anybody has been more reliable than him as far as RBI situations."
Matsui missed the Yankees' last two games of the regular season to have fluids drained from his troublesome right knee, which had grown increasingly inflexible as his club wrapped up the AL Wild Card.
He went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in New York's 12-3 Game 1 loss.
"I thought he was feeling for it [Thursday] night," Torre said. "He's probably, the whole time I've been here, been the most unpredictable guy for me, as far as when you think he's in a slump. All of a sudden, bang, bang, bang."
Matsui batted .285 with 25 home runs and 103 RBIs in 143 games for New York this season, serving as the club's left fielder and designated hitter.
He has driven in 100 or more runs in four of his five Major League seasons after coming over from Japan, with the only exception an injury-marred 2006 campaign in which Matsui was limited to 51 games.
"It's tough to ignore just because he didn't have a good game," Torre said.
Dougie fresh: One day after having his left ankle rolled over by an inattentive YES Network cameraman, Doug Mientkiewicz was back in the Yankees lineup, showing no after-effects of the freak incident.
Torre said that if Mientkiewicz was not ready to play, he "probably" would have used Jason Giambi as the starting first baseman.
"That's the one thing I wasn't sure about," Torre said. "But [Mientkiewicz] had no limitations."
Mientkiewicz was coming off the team bus and into Jacobs Field on Thursday when the cameraman, a freelancer hired out of the Cleveland area, backpedaled into the Yankees first baseman and fell on him.
A YES Network spokesman later confirmed that the cameraman, whose identity was not revealed, had been dismissed. Informed of that after Game 1, Mientkiewicz said he felt sympathy for the worker.
"I didn't want that, by any means," Mientkiewicz said. "Accidents happen. Trust me, there's a lot better players he could've sabotaged than me. That shouldn't happen. It was a mistake and people make mistakes. I feel bad. He doesn't deserve that. He deserves better than that."
Options aplenty: Chien-Ming Wang's Game 1 start was underwhelming, as the right-hander was charged with eight runs in 4 2/3 innings. But Torre said that effort would not discount the chances of Wang coming back and pitching Game 4 on short rest if necessary.
Torre also listed Mike Mussina -- believed to be the favorite -- and Phil Hughes as possible choices, with Andy Pettitte available to pitch Game 5 on regular rest if the series gets that far.
Rocket ready: Torre said he is "very confident" that Roger Clemens, who joined the team in Cleveland and has been working out in preparation for his Game 3 start at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, will not be affected by his long delay between starts. The 45-year-old Clemens started just twice in September and has not pitched since Sept. 16 at Boston.
"What he does, it's not like a layoff to him, because of the work he does," Torre said. "What he does in-between, it's not like he's eating Bon-Bons, you know? He just tortures himself."
Bombers bits: Torre said that the actor/comedian Billy Crystal left him a message before Game 1, urging on his favorite team. ... Speaking of favorite teams, Torre was pleased to see LeBron James on the Yankees' side Thursday, and wasn't concerned about what it might mean to the Cleveland fans. "They're still going to cheer for him when he keeps dunking the ball," Torre said. ... The Yankees have lost the opening game of the ALDS five times (1996, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004), but have come back to win each time.
Coming up: The ALDS moves to New York for Game 3 on Sunday, with Clemens (6-6, 4.18 in 2007) set to take the mound against Indians right-hander Jake Westbrook (6-9, 4.32 in 2007). First pitch is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. ET on TBS.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.