Swisher pinch-hits, eyes Sunday return

Swisher pinch-hits, eyes Sunday return

NEW YORK -- Joe Girardi erred on the side of caution and held Nick Swisher out of the lineup for the seventh consecutive game Saturday, but it did not stop him from pinch-hitting Swisher in the ninth inning of an 8-6 loss to the Red Sox.

Girardi wants to avoid any setbacks with his right fielder, who has a strained left hip flexor, but Swisher believes he is ready to return. The Yankees lost their designated hitter Saturday when Russell Martin moved from DH to behind the plate in the ninth, so Swisher hit for the pitcher and struck out swinging against Boston closer Alfredo Aceves.

"I feel good," Swisher said. "It was nice to get back out there. It was kind of a long day. Just to be able to get one at-bat, I feel good."

Girardi said the decision to sit Swisher had nothing to do with the Yankees' comfortable lead in the American League East. Rather, he wants Swisher 100 percent, and after watching him run Friday, Girardi was not convinced of it. But he felt confident enough after Swisher took batting practice before Saturday's game at Yankee Stadium, and Swisher took his pinch at-bat as a signal that he could return to the lineup for Sunday's series finale against Boston.

"I would think so," Swisher said. "I would think if you're able to pinch-hit [after] sitting on the bench for three hours, you're able to DH, at least. We'll come back here tomorrow and see what they say."