Musty injury could hurt his chances

TAMPA, Fla. -- Considering how bad it looked, Ronnier Mustelier's high-speed collision with the padded steel railing in front of the photographer's well at The Boss on Friday could have been a whole lot worse.

Mustelier was walking, somewhat gingerly, in the clubhouse a little while after it happened and reported nothing more serious than some bruises above and below both knees.

But considering that he will probably not play again until Tuesday, it looks as if his chances to make the team as a fill-in third baseman/outfielder took a bigger hit than his rugged 5-7, 210-pound body did. The Yankees like his bat and his versatility, but now, with a probable three days on the sidelines and outfielder/DH Brennan Boesch headed to Tampa, the window of opportunity may be closing for the 28-year-old Cuban emigre.

"He's looked pretty good," Joe Girardi said. "He's made an impression. He's more athletic than I thought."

Musty -- the nickname is official now that Girardi used it in the postgame news conference -- had been playing well to the point of the injury, starting a key

double play that helped CC Sabathia escape a bases-loaded, none-out first-inning jam with minimal damage, and nearly throwing out the speedy Gorkys Hernandez on a second-inning bunt.

But his penchant for full-throttle play, which nearly cost him when he collided with Slade Heathcott in the outfield while playing right field on Feb. 28, caught up with Musty on the Ides of March when he charged into the railing while trying to catch Juan Pierre's foul pop-up in the fourth inning.

"He's playing hard," Girardi said. "That's who he is."

And Musty went down hard -- from the pressbox, it appeared the railing caught him in the ribs -- and he needed to be helped off the field by Girardi and trainer Steve Donohue. He limped in the clubhouse and displayed bruises on both legs, but said he was OK. The injury was not X-rayed, merely iced, and the Yankees said he would be re-evaluated Saturday morning.

"I really want to wake up tomorrow and be able to play," Mustelier said. "But I will need to wait and see."

It's too bad because Musty was becoming one of the more compelling stories of this camp, and losing even two days of games -- the Yankees are off on Monday -- could set back his chances of catching on as the 25th man on the roster. But Girardi has seen enough of Musty to know that there might still be a place for him on the team sometime this season.

"He has to be in consideration for some of these spots if you have some injuries during the course of the season," Girardi said. "Even if he doesn't break [camp] with us, I think you have to look at him and see how he's playing."