10/04/06 8:54 PM ET
Notes: Big Unit ready for Game 3
Steinbrenner arrives in good mood; relief corps set for Game 2
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com
With pitching coach Ron Guidry observing and bullpen coach Joe Kerrigan catching, Johnson threw about 35 pitches, reporting no problems with the herniated disc in his back. This was the second bullpen session for Johnson this week, as he threw off a mound on Sunday to test his balky back.
"He threw the ball really well, better than he had the last time," Guidry said. "I think he's feeling better."
"He'll be ready to go on Friday," manager Joe Torre said. "He felt fine."
Johnson missed his final regular-season start because of the back injury, receiving an epidural injection late last week to reduce the inflammation.
His status for the postseason was up in the air before Monday, when he reported no problems following his bullpen session. After throwing his bullpen on Wednesday, Johnson boarded a plane and headed for Detroit, where he will pitch Friday night against the Tigers.
"I'm going to give him the ball and we're all going to wait and see," Torre said after repeated questions about Johnson's health. "Instead of worrying about what's supposed to be or what could be, let's wait and see what it is."
Blissful Boss: George Steinbrenner arrived at Yankee Stadium shortly after 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and the Boss appeared to be in a good mood following the Yankees' Game 1 victory.
Steinbrenner expressed his confidence in Game 2 starter Mike Mussina, and he also heaped praise on captain Derek Jeter, who went 5-for-5 on Tuesday.
"He's a good player," Steinbrenner said. "He's a good leader."
As for his prediction for the Yankees this October, Steinbrenner wasn't about to make any World Series guarantees.
"We have a good team," he said. "We'll do all right."
Captain clutch: Jeter's five-hit night made him just the sixth player in postseason history to collect five hits in one game, as he became the first to accomplish the feat since Hideki Matsui in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox.
However, Jeter joined Atlanta's Marquis Grissom as the only players to go 5-for-5 in a postseason game.
"Five hits, that's better than pretty impressive," Torre said. "This kid, from the time he was 21 years old, just seemed to be pretty comfortable being in this uniform, in this ballpark and in this situation."
Jeter holds the all-time postseason record with 147 hits, and he passed Bernie Williams for the postseason runs record with 84.
"Just because of your ability, it doesn't mean you're going to do that," Torre said. "We've seen a lot of great players over the years who finally get to postseason, they struggle, then the second time around, they handle it better."
Feeling fine: Despite sharing the best record in baseball with the Mets, Torre wondered how his team would respond when the calendar turned to October.
"You're a little anxious going into the first game, because you know you're capable and have the ability, but it's still something different than a regular baseball game," Torre said. "You wonder how everybody is going to respond. I felt pretty comfortable watching."
Relief ready: Despite using Mike Myers, Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth in Game 1, Torre said that all three relievers would be available on Wednesday night.
Myers allowed a home run by Curtis Granderson, the only batter he faced, while Proctor allowed two singles before recording the final out of the seventh. Farnsworth opened the eighth with six consecutive balls before retiring the next three hitters.
"These are the guys we've had all year," Torre said, "We're going to continue to go to them."
Torre hopes that getting the first game out of the way for the three pitchers will help settle them down the next time they take the mound.
"As much as you'd like everybody to be robotic, there's still the emotion that goes along with playing in the postseason," Torre said. "You sort of have to shake the butterflies out. Hopefully that helped."
Family affair: DeLeon Sheffield, the wife of first baseman Gary Sheffield, sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Game 2.
The ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by five-time All-Star Paul O'Neill, who spent 1993-2001 with the Yankees and contributed to four World Series title teams. His former teammate, Tino Martinez, threw out the first pitch before Game 1.
Mark Feinsand is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.