Even if Gardner is not ready to hit big league pitching by the time the Yankees expect to be in playoff games, Girardi believes that he could be useful in a limited pinch-running and defensive-replacement role.
"We've done that before, where we've just taken a baserunner," Girardi said. "We did it against the Angels in 2009."
Girardi was referring to speedster Freddy Guzman, who replaced veteran Eric Hinske on the American League Championship Series roster and pinch-ran in Games 2 and 5, striking out in his only at-bat.
Gardner went on the disabled list on April 18 with an injured right elbow that eventually required surgery, and he was activated from the 60-day DL on Tuesday.