Pitcher has nerve damage to right bicep

ST LOUIS -- It's looking less likely that Cardinals 15-game winner Chris Carpenter will pitch in the postseason.

The Cardinals have been without Carpenter since Sept. 18 -- the
day they clinched the NL Central -- when he was sidelined with nerve
damage in his right biceps.

Trainer Barry Weinberg said Carpenter, who would have been the team's Game 1 starter, had made "little improvements but nothing
significant enough to start throwing."

"He'd have to get back to normal and he's not normal,"
Weinberg added.

Damon's head hurts
Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon is having a recurrence of migraine headaches that first bothered him after a collision in last year's playoffs.

Damon is not expected to miss any playing time.

"The first two months of the offseason, I had migraines every
day," he said Thursday, an off-day in Boston's AL division series
against the Anaheim Angels. "I started having them again last

Damon collided with second baseman Damian Jackson when both raced for a popup in short center during the first-round series
against Oakland last season. Jackson was on the ground for a few
minutes, but an unconscious Damon stayed there for nine minutes as
several teammates prayed.

He missed the first two games of last year's ALCS against the
New York Yankees and, after getting three hits in Game 3, he went
1-for-17 the rest of the way. But the injury doesn't seem to have
affected him this year, when he batted .304 with 123 runs, 20
homers and 94 RBIs as a leadoff man.

"Physically, I'm all right," Damon said. "I just have that
headache thing again."

Rivas sore
Twins second baseman Luis Rivas probably won't play the rest of the series because of a sore elbow.

"It really bothers him swinging," manager Ron Gardenhire said.

That leaves the job to Michael Cuddyer, 4-for-8 with a run and
an RBI and solid in the field so far. But because starter Carlos
Silva is a groundball pitcher, Gardenhire was contemplating
starting Augie Ojeda at second base to give the Twins a better
glove in Game 3.

Lofton to play
Yankees outfielder Kenny Lofton will make his first start in Game 3, in place of designated hitter Ruben Sierra. Manager Joe Torre said Lofton will bat ninth and play center field.

Lofton, a 14-year veteran who signed a $6.2 million, two-year
contract with the Yankees in the offseason, had a .346 on-base
percentage and scored 51 runs this season. He complained earlier in
the year about his limited playing time -- he played in 83
regular-season games this year.

Lofton was in good spirits in the clubhouse Thursday.

"I just want to play, that's all I want to do," Lofton said.

One at a time
Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia chose not to name a starter for a potential Game 4 of the series against Boston.

"I could sit here and tell you we are going to go with [John] Lackey, but Lackey might have to help us win [Friday]," he said.
"Obviously, there is no need to save anybody. So we are not going
to hold anything back."

Lackey was 14-13 with a 4.67 ERA this season. He made one relief appearance during the regular season and 32 starts.

The Red Sox haven't announced their Game 4 starter, either.
They are expected to go with knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who was
12-10 with a 4.87 ERA.

Waiting game
Orlando Hernandez and Javier Vazquez awaited word on which one would start Game 4 for the Yankees. Hernandez, who has been complaining of a tired arm, appears to have the edge over Vazquez.

"[El] Duque gave me a thumbs up today, which is a good sign,"
Torre said.

Hernandez said in the clubhouse that he felt OK, but said he
needed more time to get ready.

"I want to go to the mound, but when I'm feeling good," he

Torre originally considered making Hernandez his Game 3 starter, but he chose Brown over Vazquez with Duque ailing. Vazquez, an All-Star this year, has only one win in nine starts since Aug. 6.

"I'm disappointed the way I pitched in the second half. I'm not
disappointed in the decision, because I know if I would have done a
better job I would've been there earlier," Vazquez said. "I still
feel like I can help this team. Hopefully I'll get the chance."

Also waiting
John Thomson had a successful stint in the bullpen and is on track to start for the Braves on Saturday in Game 3 of the division series against Houston.

Thomson left his last regular-season start after just three
innings with a pulled a muscle in his side, and was bumped back
from his scheduled start in Game 2.

Manager Bobby Cox, pitching coach Leo Mazzone and trainer Jeff Porter watched as Thomson threw in the bullpen.

Porter said Thomson "can still feel" the muscle pull.

"He's still not 100 percent," Porter said. "But he's only
going to get better. ... The rebound the next day is always a
consideration. I expect it to be good."

Free agent
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is in the last year of his contract, but he's not anxious to test the market.

He figures to return for his 10th season in St. Louis.

"I'll tell you what, if we win the world championship, I'll
manage for free," La Russa said. "And I'm not laughing. You can
write it. It's the truth."

This is La Russa's 10th trip to the postseason, and he's
savoring it.

"Part of the enjoyment of this thing is to every once in a
while look around and check the scene out," La Russa said. "It's
such a wonderful experience and it's such a treat to be a part of

"But you'd better just do that a little bit. You'd be a fool to
not understand everything that goes on with it."

More injuries
Cox said the bruised shin pitcher Jaret Wright suffered in Wednesday's game would not threaten his status for a possible Game 5 start. Wright already was recovering from a foot injury.

Meanwhile, Cox had two starting lineups ready Thursday -- one
without Chipper Jones, who has a bruised right hand.

Jones was able to start but was 0-for-4, leaving him 0-for-8 in
the series. Cox had a second lineup ready with Marcus Giles moving
from second to third and Nick Green moving into the lineup at
second base.

Braves starter Mike Hampton, who left the game in
the seventh inning with tightness in his left forearm, said the
problem is not serious.

Garnering votes
Astros manager Phil Garner was given an "interim" title when he was hired on July 14.

Houston first baseman Jeff Bagwell says he hopes the interim
part of the title is dropped.

"I don't see how it could not," Bagwell said. "When you take
over a team that's .500 and you get to about four games under and
then all of a sudden to be 22 games over, to make the playoffs, I
think Phil deserves it. That's probably going to be up to Phil, if
Phil wants to continue to be our manager."