Notes: Yanks escape injury bug
Damon, Giambi back in action for White Sox finale
CHICAGO -- The Yankees escaped two potential injury problems, as both Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi returned to the lineup for Thursday's series finale against the White Sox.
Damon left Wednesday's game in the fourth inning with stiffness in his right groin, as Joe Torre believed that the center fielder was being tentative in the field.
"I took him out because of what I saw defensively," Torre said. "He doesn't seem to have any type of fatigue there today. He feels pretty good, so hopefully it wasn't more than a little cramp or tightness."
"It feels better than it felt last night, which is definitely a plus," Damon said.
Damon spent time in the trainer's room before Thursday's game to receive treatment for the injury, but he said that he won't think about it at all once he hits the field.
"I'm going into the game not worrying about it," Damon said. "As soon as the game starts, if nothing feels different, I'm going to run the bases hard and go after fly balls hard."
Giambi missed Wednesday's game after being drilled on his right elbow by a Neal Cotts pitch on Tuesday night. Giambi could have hit on Wednesday, but Torre wanted to use Bernie Williams as the designated hitter.
Giambi's right middle finger was numb from being hit on a nerve, so he couldn't throw, but he had no problems with that on Thursday.
"I could have pinch-hit, but he needed me to play first," Giambi said. "It's a lot better than it was yesterday; a lot of the swelling has gone down."
Traveling men: The Yankees held a team meeting before Thursday's game to discuss travel restrictions set by the Transportation Security Administration following the terror plot that was disrupted in London on Thursday.
David Szen, the team's traveling secretary, informed players that they would not be permitted to carry any liquids or gels on the team's charter. The team is scheduled to depart from Chicago's Midway Airport late Thursday night.
"We always go through security," Torre said. "We're going to be held to the same standards as anybody else."
Robbie's return: It hasn't taken much time for Robinson Cano to get back into the swing of things since returning from the disabled list, as the second baseman is 5-for-9 with a home run and two doubles in his first two games back.
"He's been hitting the ball the other way with ease," Torre said. "Timing is one thing you never know how long it's going to take. His ability to hit the ball the other way certainly helps that part of it."
Cano has also played good defense, executing a perfect relay throw to throw out Scott Podsednik at third base on Tuesday and making a great play on a short hop to end Wednesday's game.
While most of the focus has been on the eventual return of Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield, having Cano back in the lineup has been a big boost for the Yankees.
"The other guys are more high-profile and have been out longer," Torre said. "I don't think any of us thought Robbie would miss as much as he missed. You realize how many times you pinch-hit for the second baseman and you don't overlook how much you're looking forward to him coming back."
Top of the heap: When the Yankees left the field on Wednesday night with a 7-6 win over the White Sox, they breathed a sigh of relief that their lead in the AL East still stood at two games.
After all, the second-place Red Sox had a one-run lead in the ninth against the Royals, and All-Star closer Jonathan Papelbon was in the game for the save.
But Papelbon blew the save opportunity, pushing the Yankees' lead in the division to three games, which Torre called "a bonus" for his club.
"You can't get yourself lulled into a false sense of security that it's going to happen all the time; you have to handle your own stuff, and whatever happens, happens," Torre said. "Right now, we're the club in our division that controls its own destiny."
Streak snapper: Bobby Abreu broke his 163-at-bat homerless streak on Wednesday night, which the right fielder admitted was a "relief" for him.
"There's been so much talk about the shortage of power," Torre said. "So once that first one gets out of the way, they stop worrying about it."
Torre seemed more impressed that Abreu's homer came on a changeup, and that he drilled it to straightaway center field.
"He's got such great plate coverage, so you can't play him one way defensively," Torre said. "He's a great fit for us."
Pavano pitches: Carl Pavano made a rehab start for Class A Tampa in the Florida State League, taking on Daytona.
Pavano allowed three runs on five hits and one walk (it was intentional) in 2 2/3 innings, striking out one. He also allowed a solo home run in the outing.
Pavano threw 46 pitches, 28 for strikes.
Bobbling Bernie: The Connecticut Defenders, formerly the Norwich Navigators, will give away a special Bernie Williams rehab edition bobblehead doll on Aug. 16.
The team, which used to be the Yankees' Double-A affiliate, is now an affiliate in the Giants farm system.
Williams played three games with Norwich in 1996 when he was rehabbing a sprained right knee, going 6-for-11 with two home runs and five RBIs. Williams is the fourth former Yankee to be featured in the rehab series, joining Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Cone.
Coming up: The Yankees return home to open a seven-game homestand, kicking off a four-game set against the Angels. Cory Lidle takes the mound for New York, while Joe Saunders starts for Los Angeles. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.