Notebook: For Cameron, it's now a contact sport
Seattle Times staff reporters
If not for a sinus infection last week, Mike Cameron might not have known how bad his vision was in his right eye.
"My eye was not right," said Cameron, who wore a contact in the eye last night for the first time. "It was either that (contact) or being blind in one eye."
Cameron was tearing in his eyes because of the infection, and his right eye was slow to recover its focus. The problem may stem from an injury in 1995 when he played for Class AA Birmingham. He was hit in the eye socket by a fastball.
Team eye doctor Doug Nikatani examined Cameron this week and found his right eye significantly different than his left. He recommended and fitted him for the contact.
"It's been so long, it felt natural to me," Cameron said of the vision problem. "Dr. Nikatani found out what I was trying to tell everybody. I was not picking up the spin or the speed of the ball. I was just able to get by."
Cameron took batting practice with his new contact before last night's game then used it during the game. He struck out in his first at-bat against Roger Clemens, but he went down swinging.
Martinez back June 1?
Edgar Martinez took batting practice before the game and looked in his old form. He sprayed the ball all over the park, putting pressure on his ailing left knee without discomfort. He had surgery to remove a ruptured tendon behind his left knee.
"They said it was going to be four to six weeks. I feel good right now," Martinez said. "I don't know about a target date. All I know is I felt good the past couple days."
Manager Lou Piniella watched Martinez and was quite encouraged.
"I did not expect to see him in two weeks taking batting practice. That was a welcome sight. I think that the 4-6 week timetable is within reason," Piniella said. "I would think the first of June is a pretty good measuring stick. Another month or so.
"We have to be careful that he doesn't push himself or we don't push him to the point he may have a setback."
Martinez still has not run, although he does leg exercises in the therapy pool. He likely won't run for at least another 10 days to two weeks.
"When he's ready, he'll know and we'll know it," Piniella said. "We'll get him in there. We're not going to prolong it any more than we have to."
Pettitte not pushing it
Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte, a key cog to New York's winning ways in recent years, hopes to throw off a bullpen mound tomorrow as he continues rehabilitating from a strained left elbow. But Pettitte doesn't want to risk further injury, so he is prepared to skip the mound session. Pettitte has been on the 15-day disabled list since last Sunday.
"I'm going to play catch first, try to long toss a little bit," Pettitte said yesterday. "The plan is to get on the mound. I've rested it (the elbow) too long to aggravate it again. I'm going to be real patient about it and see how it feels."
Manager Joe Torre hopes Pettitte can return to the starting rotation without having to make a rehabilitation start. Pettitte is eligible to come off the DL as early as next Wednesday but will probably not be activated until May 3 or 4.
"I think we'll wait until after Sunday, and then we'll make a decision on where we go," Torre said. "So far everything has been positive, and he's been in a good frame of mind. So we'll see how the bullpen goes. The reason you would do the rehab (start) is more for the safety of it, where (if) you activate him and then he feels something ... you have to start all over again."
Torre said he would consult with pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre about Pettitte's situation, and Pettitte said there would be more medical tests on the injury if the elbow felt worse after he throws.
Torre takes time
Torre said he is still trying to figure out how to juggle his lineup and fit his players into playing rotations, with several new players on the roster this season. Those include outfielder Rondell White, infielder Ron Coomer, third baseman Robin Ventura, catcher Alberto Castillo, pitcher Steve Karsay and first baseman Jason Giambi.
"I think it takes you a little time to get a feel for your team," Torre said. "(Thursday) I pinch-hit a guy (John Vander Wal, another new Yankee), and I may not do this in two months. It's just something you're trying to find out. You just hope that you play well enough to be there so that when the time comes when you feel better about it, maybe you can put a streak together."
Torre on M's
The Yankees and Mariners are similar in that they don't let a few losses bother them, Torre said. But there are several different reasons for each team's success.
"They have more speed than we do, and we may have better pitching than they do, but it comes down to being able to perform when you're on the same field," Torre said. "Lou is an unpredictable manager. He knows his players, and they play their tails off for him. When you have a club that doesn't rely on one particular person, I think you can make up for the absence of somebody (Martinez). They're a good team, one through nine."
Torre said he has been impressed with several Mariners.
"Mike Cameron's turned into a heck of a player. (Mark) McLemore has been around a long time, and it looks like he's young again."
• Bret Boone was hitting just .245 entering last night. Piniella said, "He's not as selective as last year. That's the major difference I see."
• Clint Hurdle, named to replace Buddy Bell as Colorado manager, made the Mariners in 1984 after hitting more than .400 in spring training and was dropped the day before the season began when former general manager Dan O'Brien acquired Ken Phelps from Montreal. Phelps was with Seattle until 1988, when he was traded to the Yankees for Jay Buhner.
• The Tacoma Rainiers' Class AAA game against Calgary last night was rained out. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader today, beginning at 1:35 p.m.