General manager Brian Cashman said Tuesday that Matsui was running out of options to rehabilitate his knee, which has sidelined him since June 22 and kept him from playing the outfield since June 15.
Cashman rarely rules out any options, so he wouldn't exclude adding Bonds, who has offered to play at the minimum salary but has been shunned by all 30 major league teams this year. Cashman's answer to a question on the field before the All-Star Game, however, was intriguing.
"I would say any rampant speculation on us involving a player of that magnitude would be extremely premature," Cashman said. "I would caution everybody to not misunderstand that since I'm not saying no to it, that that means, 'Oh my gosh, that that might be happening down the line.' It's not something we're focused on at this point. We're focused on getting Hideki Matsui back rather than, you know, what we're going to do if he's not back."
"I'm not going to tell you if we're pursuing him or not," Cashman said. "I'm sure he's evaluating whatever his choices are."
Matsui will travel to New York from the team's complex in Tampa, Fla., and is expected to be examined by team doctors Friday. His return this season appears increasingly unlikely.
"It's a setback," Cashman said. "The doctors may have a few more tricks up their sleeves, but if they run out of those tricks eventually and it's not responding, then surgery is the last resort."
Matsui did not hit Tuesday. The Yankees had hoped he might be ready to return when he's eligible to come off the disabled list on Friday.
"Perhaps you can say so, it's a short-term setback," Matsui said through a translator at the Yankees' minor league complex. "You try, believing that you're going to be able to go back this season. If it comes to the point where I have to decide surgery, then that's that."
Damon, eligible to be activated Sunday, continues to have soreness in his injured left shoulder, and probably won't start hitting off a tee until at least late this week. He underwent treatment only on Tuesday.
"It feels a little better today," Damon said. "It still feels horrible waking up. I'm still kind of down because I know [Yankees manager Joe] Girardi wants to put me in the lineup on Sunday and I'm not sure we can do that."
Cashman also said right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (injured foot) won't return until September at the earliest.
"The margin for error is very short on him," Cashman said. "We have to expect that he's not coming back even though it's possible that he will."
Eric Milton, signed to a minor league contract, threw 25 pitches in his first bullpen session. The left-hander had elbow ligament replacement surgery in June 2007. "This is kind of like taking a flyer," Cashman said. "That could be something that becomes interesting or it could be a non-story." ... RHP Brian Bruney (injured foot) will report to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre as he keeps up his rehab. He will need several outings before rejoining the Yankees.