ST. PETERSBURG -- Nick Swisher didn't love the moment when a needle plunged into the area around his left knee, injecting it with cortisone, but afterward he said he smiled for the first time in about a week.
A MRI examination taken on the Yankees outfielder's ailing knee Tuesday revealed only inflammation and no structural damage, which offers encouraging news to Swisher, who may be able to return to New York's lineup as early as Friday in Baltimore.
"It was actually good," Swisher said. "It was more of a pinpoint thing this time, and the major thing they found was there was still some inflammation in there. We took care of that with a cortisone shot today. I'm going to be back in there as soon as I can."
Swisher originally suffered the injury fouling a ball off himself in an Aug. 24 game at Toronto, and reaggravated it during the Yankees' recent home series against the Orioles.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi used Swisher as a pinch-hitter in Monday's 1-0, 11-inning loss to the Rays, but said he would "probably stay away" from putting Swisher back on the field Tuesday, just to be safe.
"There's not really anything structurally wrong, but inflammation can be a pain in the rear end too," Girardi said.
Swisher said he was pleased that the diagnosis seemed to be less vague and more specific, giving him the answers he was looking for about why his knee was still hindering his running and pain was beginning to seep into his hips and shoulders, among other areas.
The cortisone shot -- the first Swisher said he has ever received -- should begin to kick in after about 48 hours, which Swisher hopes will put him back in the lineup.
"I'm excited. I think we made good strides today finding a better game plan to treat this and get back on the field," Swisher said.