Ailing Yankees visit nearby teammates

Ailing Yankees visit nearby teammates

ST. PETERSBURG -- They may not all be able to immediately contribute, but the Yankees' clubhouse appears a little more complete every time the club drops by Tropicana Field.

The Yankees' Minor League complex in Tampa, Fla., used for player injury rehabilitation, is just a short drive away, so trips to play the Rays always present an opportunity for teammates to check in and renew acquaintances with those on the disabled list.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, the rosters have been more full than they'd have hoped in the early going. New York's most pressing absence has been that of third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who is on the disabled list with a strained right quadriceps and will be held out of game action at least through the end of this week.

The Yankees are also waiting on catcher Jorge Posada, who began a light throwing program on Monday by making 25 throws at 60 feet, following 15 warmup tosses.

Posada, on the DL with right rotator cuff tendinitis, also took batting practice with the club at Tropicana Field; Yankees manager Joe Girardi called Posada's progress "positive."

The newly bespectacled Phil Hughes was also making the rounds, showing off the prescription glasses that will help cure his slight nearsightedness the next time he takes a mound. That could be a while, though -- Hughes has been told a new X-ray will be taken on his fractured right rib in 2 1/2 weeks, so until then, he is limited to receiving treatment and riding a stationary bicycle.

Right-hander Jeff Karstens, sidelined in his last Spring Training appearance with a strained right groin, is also on the mend. Karstens visited with his Yankees teammates on Monday, and said he's just "trying to stay sane" through the lengthy rehab process, which next has him throwing five innings in an extended Spring Training game on Wednesday.

After that, his next stop would be Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, when the clock can really start on his progress to help the big league Yankees.

"I'm feeling good -- no soreness or anything," Karstens said. "I'm really ready to go."

Further down the line is right-hander Humberto Sanchez, who is coming back from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery performed in the spring of 2007. The Yankees have told Sanchez that he will be used as a reliever through the rest of this season, beginning a program that he hopes will have him in pinstripes by the end of the year.

Already throwing his fastball at about 80 to 85 percent, Sanchez has been told to be ready to pitch in an extended Spring Training game on June 10, and then join the Gulf Coast League Yankees, working his way up the ladder.

"The biggest thing is being pain free," Sanchez said. "It feels strong. It feels pretty normal right now. My goal is to come back healthy and help this team."

Finally, even the oft-injured Carl Pavano may be able to contribute in some way. In the final year of his four-year, $39.95 million deal, Pavano is throwing on flat ground over at the Yankees' complex.

Girardi said that the plan is for Pavano to pitch competitively in August, and has said that "it would make a great story" if Pavano was able to come back and be on the mound for the Yankees, something he was not able to do for an extended period during his first three years under contract.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Chien-Ming Wang (6-1, 3.12 ERA)
Wang pitched well enough to win on Wednesday in New York, limiting the Indians to three runs over seven innings, but it wasn't a good night for it -- not with Cliff Lee and two relievers shutting out the Yankees. Wang wasn't at his best but found a way to get by, even though his command of his sinker was only "so-so," and he wasn't able to control to both sides of the plate as well as usual. Wang started the year 6-0, and one of those victories came over Tampa Bay on April 6, when he threw six innings of scoreless four-hit ball, walking two and striking out six. Wang is 5-2 with a 4.11 ERA in seven career starts at Tropicana Field.

TB: RHP Edwin Jackson (2-3, 4.04 ERA)
Jackson pitched well in his last outing, Thursday against the Blue Jays, when he put up eight scoreless innings but did not get a decision as the Jays scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth against Rays closer Troy Percival. Jackson continues to show electric stuff, which brings the expectations of future greatness and keeps him in the rotation. But inconsistency has plagued him time and again. He is 2-2 with a 5.40 ERA in nine career appearances against the Yankees.

Tidbits
The Rays are 22-16, their best record through 38 games. They have never been six games above .500 in any season. ... Robinson Cano has a season-high seven-game hitting streak, including four of his nine extra-base hits this season. ... The Yankees have used an American League-high 34 lineups in 39 games. ... Wang is 7-1 with a 2.61 ERA over his last nine starts vs. the Rays, including three straight wins.

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On the Internet
 MLB.TV
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Up next
• Wednesday: Yankees (Mike Mussina, 5-3, 4.36) at Rays (James Shields, 4-2, 3.14), 7:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 0-2, 8.37) at Rays (Scott Kazmir, 1-1, 2.70), 4:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Yankees (Darrell Rasner, 2-0, 3.00) vs. Mets (Oliver Perez, 3-3, 4.61), 7:05 p.m. ET

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.