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Yanks Spencer Placed On DL


Just when it seemed like Shane Spencer had ended the New York Yankees' left-field debate, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list Saturday with an irregular heart beat.

Spencer, who started 17 of the last 18 games, left Friday night's game against Baltimore with dizziness after striking out in the sixth inning. He spent the night at a hospital and underwent tests Saturday.

"The most important thing is to get a handle on the situation and get him well," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Initially I thought it was the flu or something with all the heat. When they told me what it was, I was bothered."

Left field has been a problem for the Yankees all season. Darryl Strawberry, who underwent surgery for colon cancer last October, was expected to compete for the job until he was arrested on charges of possession of cocaine and solicitation.

Ricky Ledee, who started on opening day, hit .229 with no extra-base hits in 48 at-bats. He was just recently recalled from the minors.

Chad Curtis has hit .217 and spent the last month mostly as a pinch-hitter or late-inning defensive replacement.

"It makes you think there is something more to left field than the guy who is playing it," Torre said.

Spencer, who finally got a chance to win the position three weeks ago, has done the best job of all. He had a seven-game hitting streak (11-for-24) before going 0-for-3 Friday and had six homers in 107 at-bats.

Ledee got the nod to start in left Saturday against right-hander Sidney Ponson. After batting .600 in last year's World Series, the Yankees had big expectations for Ledee this season.

"It looks like he is lacking in confidence," Torre said. "I would like him to think more about the World Series than what went on earlier this season. A lot of times this game is mind over matter."

Spencer's spot on the roster was filled by utilityman Jeff Manto, who was claimed off waivers from Cleveland on Friday. Manto, originally drafted by the Yankees in the 35th round in 1982, jumps from one first-place team to another.

"There is a mutual respect for each other," Manto said. "Neither team is afraid of the other. It was a lot of fun coming here and playing the Yankees. I'm sure it will be a lot of fun going there to play the Indians."

The Yankees also signed left-hander Allen Watson to a minor league contract. Watson, who started the year with the Mets, was released Monday by the Seattle Mariners.

With Mike Stanton the only lefty in the Yankees' bullpen, Watson could get an opportunity in the majors soon.

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