Thames' sprained ankle improving

Thames' sprained ankle improving

NEW YORK -- Marcus Thames ran and took fly balls before Friday's contest against the Mets, testing his sprained left ankle, and he could soon be available for the Yankees as a pinch-hitter.

"I took BP [on Thursday], and it's my landing foot, so I couldn't really turn like I wanted to," Thames said. "I'll try it today and see how it goes. It feels a lot better."

Thames was injured on Wednesday, when he stepped on his own bat while running out a single to left field against the Rays. As embarrassing as that freak play might have been, it was nothing compared to the feedback he heard from his mother, Veterine.

"She called me 'clumsy,'" Thames said, chuckling. "That's Mom."

With Thames unavailable on Friday, the Yankees started utility man Kevin Russo in left field, slotting him into the No. 8 spot in the starting lineup. Russo has been playing all three outfield positions at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year.

"I'm excited to play," Russo said. "I'm here to play, and hopefully I can contribute."

-- Bryan Hoch