Yankees GM Brian Cashman sat on a golf cart outside the home clubhouse last night at the Stadium before the Yankees faced Oakland and he projected a sense of calm in the wake of losing left fielder Hideki Matsui for possibly the remainder of the 2006 season.


"We're a patient organization," Cashman said with a smile, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

As any Yankee fan knows, George Steinbrenner and patient are about as likely a combination as Paris Hilton and low-key. The Boss loves his marquee players and may not be able to stand having left field vacant of an All-Star for too long.

But Cashman said last night that his cell phone had not been ringing much in the 24 hours since Matsui broke his left wrist in Thursday night's 5-3 loss to Boston. Matsui underwent surgery and was officially placed on the 15-day DL yesterday, one day after he was injured trying to catch a Mark Loretta drive in the top of the first inning of the series finale with the Red Sox.

"I haven't gotten one call yet today, to be honest," Cashman said, referring to potential trade partners, even though his phone rang once during the meeting with reporters. "I'm not out there looking right now."

The Yankees recalled outfielder Kevin Reese from Triple-A .Columbus yesterday as part of a group of young players - including Bubba Crosby and Melky .Cabrera - who likely will platoon in the corner outfield spots while Matsui is out and Gary Sheffield (left wrist and hand) works his way off the DL.

"That's the exciting part of this game, when new people get opportunities and you see how they respond to it," Cashman said. "We're going to see what we have here. This creates opportunities for people to show what they can do at this particular moment in time. I'm anxious to see the results."

Steinbrenner issued a melancholy statement last night through his spokesman, Howard Rubenstein, about Matsui's injury, saying, "He's a much-valued player and friend and I'm sorry for him and for our many friends in Japan. I know how resilient he is and that he will come back strong."

In the meantime, though, The Boss is sure to be plenty anxious with his left fielder on the shelf. There are a number of high-profile players the Yanks could pursue in a trade - the Twins' Torii Hunter, the Phillies' Bobby Abreu, or, most intriguing, Nationals left fielder .Alfonso Soriano. Of course, Soriano already spent five seasons as the Yankee second baseman but has said in the past how much he loves playing in pinstripes.

Reese, who played in two games for the Bombers last season, said he got the call around 12:30 yesterday morning telling him he was headed to the Bronx instead of Norfolk for the Clippers' game against the Tides.

"It's exciting for me, but just a little tougher when you learn (the team) lost an All-Star player," Reese said. Reese, 27, was batting .257 with Columbus with two homers and nine RBI in 27 games this season.

"I went and talked with Skip (Torre) and he just said, 'Be ready,'" Reese said. "I hope I will be."
Field of dreams

GM Brian Cashman insists the first cracks will go to in-house kids Bubba Crosby and Melky Cabrera, but here are some potential targets as outside replacements for injured Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui:

STARS

Alfonso Soriano, Washington: The disgruntled former Yanks second baseman likely would more willingly accept his switch to left field if it means a return to the Bronx.

Torii Hunter, Minnesota: Johnny Damon already has acknowledged he'd considered sliding to left field if the Yanks can acquire someone such as the Minnesota star, a pending free agent.

Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia: His name was in trade rumors all winter, but Phils don't appear likely to fall out of NL East race with Mets anytime soon.

Miguel Cabrera, Florida: The Fish insist he and Dontrelle Willis are not on the block, but they've already traded everyone else. It couldn't hurt to ask.

STOP-GAPS

Reggie Sanders, Kansas City: Has reached the postseason six times with five different organizations.

Shannon Stewart, Minnesota: Joe Torre has raved about Torii's teammate in past postseasons.

Jeromy Burnitz, Pittsburgh: Two-time Mets disappointment returns to New York to take aim at the short porch in right.

Kevin Millar, Baltimore: Not a great fielder, but former Bosox motor mouth would add clubhouse color and a decent stick.

Peter Botte