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Thursday, May 22
 
Yankee has torn cartilage, might need surgery

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees center fielder Bernie Williams has torn cartilage in his left knee and will likely need surgery that might keep him out of lineup for four-to-six weeks.

Bernie Williams
Center Field
New York Yankees
Profile
2003 SEASON STATISTICS
GM HR RBI R SB AVG
46 7 31 32 2 .286

"Obviously, it is very disappointing," Williams said. "If there's any positive about this, it's that it's May. There's still the second half of the season to help the club."

Williams has been bothered by a sore knee this month and had an MRI on Thursday to determine the cause of the pain. It revealed a sprain and tear of the medial meniscus.

Team physician Dr. Stuart Hershon has recommended that Williams undergo arthroscopic surgery. Williams will get a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala., before making his final decision.

"If there's discomfort and pain, that means something is wrong," he said. "Probably the best way about it is to have the surgery."

The Yankees will place Williams on the 15-day disabled list and recall outfielder Juan Rivera from Triple-A Columbus to take his spot. Rivera will likely play left field and Hideki Matsui will shift to center.

Rivera hit .265 with one homer and six RBI in 83 at-bats in the majors last season. He also played all four games in the division series against Anaheim, going 3-for-12 with three RBI.

Rivera is expected to join the team Friday.

"He'll probably see some significant time early," general manager Brian Cashman said. "He came up last year and did a nice job. It's not a concern of what he can do."

Williams is a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner and has played a key role on the team's four World Series championships and five AL pennants in the past seven years.

He got off to a great start this season, batting .384 with six homers and 23 RBI in the first 22 games. But he has hit only one homer and driven in eight runs since then and has gone hitless in his last 21 at-bats.

"It was not letting me play the way I wanted to play," he said. "That was most important. I want to make a contribution to winning. I wasn't hitting, I wasn't doing other things. I wasn't doing anyone any good."

He is the second key hitter the Yankees have lost to an injury in the past week. Nick Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list last Saturday with a stress fracture in his right hand and also is expected to miss four-to-six weeks.

All-Star shortstop Derek Jeter missed six weeks earlier this season with a dislocated left shoulder and closer Mariano Rivera missed the first month with a strained right groin.

Despite the injuries, the Yankees began the day with a one-game lead over Boston in the AL East.

"Obviously, we were able to hold the fort down during Jeter's absence," Cashman said. "Hopefully, we'll be able to do the same without Bernie."

Cashman said he didn't anticipate looking outside the organization for help because Williams will be back for the second half of the season.




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