03/27/2004 2:00 PM ET
Notes: Yanks enjoying Tokyo trip
Osborne, DePaula to pitch in exhibition game
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
|Derek Jeter plans on enjoying the Yankees' trip to Tokyo, while also taking care of business on the baseball diamond. (Koji Sasahara/AP)
TOKYO -- The Yankees are over the hard part of the trip to Japan, having survived the 18-hour flight from Tampa to Tokyo. Now, as they prepare for this week's season-opener against the Devil Rays, New York's players are looking forward to enjoying their experience in town.
"I'm going to enjoy this," said Derek Jeter, whose parents also made the trip. "I thought the flight was going to be bad, but I didn't think it was. I'm looking forward to this. I'm sure we'll get out and see some things."
"You have to experience this town," said Jason Giambi. "It's like Las Vegas and New York rolled into one. With all of the lights, it's a pretty fun place."
Players didn't get to explore much on Saturday, waking up in time to grab a bite to eat before heading to the Tokyo Dome for the team workout.
Jeter enjoyed some sushi in one of the hotel restaurants, but the Yankees' captain wasn't sure exactly what was served to him by the chef.
"I don't even know what I ate today," Jeter said. "It was a sushi spot, but he just said it was a special suggestion."
Mike Mussina wasn't as daring, choosing to stick with familiar food.
"I'm not a big fish guy," Mussina said. "There's not a lot of sushi floating around in central Pennsylvania."
Manager Joe Torre dined with general manager Brian Cashman and Hall-of-Famer Yogi Berra in the hotel. During their meal, a Japanese fan walked over to ask Torre for his autograph. About 30 minutes later, the same fan returned to request a photo with Torre, a request the manager gladly obliged.
"He handed Yogi the camera and said, 'Would you please take the picture?' It was priceless," Torre said. "Yogi held it steady and took the shot. It was great."
"The guy had no idea who Yogi was," Cashman said. "No idea."
Taking the fifth: Donovan Osborne is still expected to start Sunday's exhibition game against the Hanshin Tigers, but Torre announced on Saturday that Jorge De Paula would also see action in the game.
Torre's announcement essentially threw the fifth starter job open again, as he decides who will step in for Jon Lieber until the right-hander is healthy.
"I don't think it's important who starts. I just want to see enough of both of them to see who fits, and if they both fit on the team," Torre said. "This spot is not something that's going to come up twice in three weeks, so it's not immediate to find out."
De Paula was impressive in his last start of the spring, throwing five hitless innings against the Red Sox before being touched for two runs in the sixth. Osborne appeared to have the starting spot all wrapped up, but De Paula opened some eyes toward the end of spring.
"We have a decision to make on him," Torre said. "It's not that we can't change our mind, but we have to figure out what's best for him. He's young and he's a starting pitcher, so where is he best served? That's basically where we're at."
If De Paula does not get the fifth starter job, he will likely start the season at Triple-A Columbus, allowing him to take the ball every five days. That would open the door for Scott Proctor to make the club as the last reliever in the bullpen. Should De Paula get the starting spot, Osborne would likely serve as the long man.
"Osborne has done nothing wrong," Torre said. "As far as I'm concerned, he's pretty versatile. Whatever we want to do with him, I like what I've seen. He may not have knockout stuff, but when things get rough, I know he's going to be able to handle it. I like what I've seen."
Sixth sense: Where a player bats in the lineup is an important thing to Japanese baseball fans, so Torre knew the question would come: Where will Matsui hit this season?
Not only did the question come, but it was the first question asked during Saturday's press conference, bringing a smile to the manager's face.
"That's my favorite question," Torre said. "Mr. Matsui will hit sixth."
Later in the afternoon, Torre was asked whether or not he considered batting Matsui in the cleanup spot, where he hit for many years in Japan.
"That's a good idea," Torre said. "I may do that."
Bernie battling: Bernie Williams continues to rehab in Tampa, as the Yankees decide whether or not to place him on the disabled list to start the season.
Williams, who is rehabbing from his Feb. 26 emergency appendectomy, will play in the outfield for the first time in a minor league game on Sunday.
Torre said that Williams' bat speed was slow in his last game, though he has had no setbacks.
"He didn't have a bad day, but he was a little slow with the bat," Torre said. "Physically, there's nothing wrong with him, he just has to get back into game shape. We have to make a decision."
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.