Nothing has been able to stop the New York Yankees this season, but for the second time in a week, they lost a key performer as center fielder Bernie Williams joined shortstop Derek Jeter on the 15-day disabled list Thursday with a sprained right knee.
Jeter was shelved June 4th with an abdominal strain, but that did not stop the Yankees from rolling to their nine-game winning streak, as Luis Sojo has filled in at shortstop. With Williams sidelined at least until the day the Yankees open their Shea Stadium series with the New York Mets, promising outfield prospect Ricky Ledee was recalled from Triple-A Columbus to fill Williams' roster spot.
Williams suffered the injury against the Montreal Expos on Wednesday when he slid awkwardly into third base. He returned to New York today for an MRI, which revealed the sprain. Williams, the American League's second-leading hitter and the Player of the Month for May, started the sixth inning with a double and stole third.
Williams, who had two hits, scored twice and increased his batting average to .353 before getting hurt, has a team-leading 10 homers -- all in his last 28 games -- and 44 RBI. He was on the disabled list twice last season with a hamstring injury.
Chad Curtis will handle most of the duties in center field while Williams is sidelined and the Yankees, who lead the majors with a phenomenal 46-13 record, hope to enjoy the same success they have had without Jeter. Jeter is seventh in the AL in hitting at .329 while committing just two errors.
"Guys like Bernie and Jeter are a big part of our lineup. It will test the rest of us to pick it up," right fielder Paul O'Neill said.
New York also lost Tino Martinez for nine games this season due to a shoulder injury.
The 24-year-old Ledee, whose name comes up every time the Yankees have trade talks for premier players, such as second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, remained steady for Columbus in 57 games. He is hitting .291 with 15 doubles and 13 homers with 25 RBI in 213 at-bats.
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