- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 13, 2009

NEW YORK (AP) - Johnny Damon was back in the New York Yankees’ lineup Saturday after missing a start because his eyes had been bothering him.

The Yankees also got good news about reliever Brian Bruney, who tossed a perfect inning in a rehab appearance for Double-A Trenton. The right-hander, who has pitched only once for New York since April 21 because of a strained elbow, is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

“Whenever they want me, I’m ready,” Bruney said in the Yankees’ clubhouse after their 6-2 loss to the New York Mets. “I was lying the last time. I feel good this time and I feel good telling you I’m fine.”

Left-hander Damaso Marte, however, plans to be examined by Dr. James Andrews on Monday in Alabama after feeling more discomfort in his pitching shoulder. The reliever, signed to a $12 million, three-year contract in the offseason, has been out since April 26 with shoulder inflammation.

Damon dropped a routine fly to left field Thursday night in Boston and was held out of Friday night’s starting lineup against the Mets because he told the team his eyes had been “fluttering,” according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi.

Damon struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning of the Yankees’ 9-8 comeback victory.

He was back in the lineup Saturday, playing left field and batting second. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout but made all his plays on defense.

“I didn’t experience any specific problems today,” Damon said, adding that he still might have more tests at some point.

Damon said a doctor told him caffeine could be the cause of his eye trouble and suggested he stay away from coffee and energy drinks for a while to see if that helps.

“The days I wake up and do drink some coffee are definitely the days I do feel more jittery,” Damon said. “Hopefully, that’s it. Because that’s also something that leads to high blood pressure and all that stuff, which _ mine has been up.”

The 35-year-old Damon said he often has about three energy drinks or cups of coffee in a typical 8-hour period at the ballpark.

“With the way the game is, being an older player, I definitely need a few more energy drinks than the young kids. So it could be a possibility. But we’ll see,” he said. “In a couple of days we’ll probably know more.”

If cutting out caffeine doesn’t help, Damon probably will see an eye doctor or try something else. While speaking with reporters before the game, he playfully stumbled around at his locker and fumbled with some gear.

“The eyes are definitely a little sore, maybe from blinking a lot the past couple days,” he said. “I can’t tell you exactly what the problem is.”

Before the game, Damon said he wasn’t worried about stepping into the batters’ box without his eyes at 100 percent.

“I’ve been doing it for a couple weeks. I feel confident in my abilities,” he said. “So if I don’t get a hit or anything, it’s my fault _ or the pitcher’s done his job. I feel capable of playing. When I step into the box, I feel like I can give something.”

Damon said he doesn’t think his recent eye issues have anything to do with the concussion he sustained during the 2003 playoffs with Boston.

“I think everything’s fine. It seems like all that post-concussion stuff stopped about two years ago,” he said. “It’s just the eyes. The eyes are a little sore. Probably tired from working overtime. I think I’ll be fine.”

Bruney threw eight of 12 pitches for strikes with Trenton. If he can stay healthy it could be a huge boost for New York’s shaky bullpen, particularly in the eighth inning.

Serving as Mariano Rivera’s primary setup man, Bruney is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 appearances this season. He has 13 strikeouts and two walks in nine innings.

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