Posada, Bruney heading toward return

Posada, Bruney head for return

NEW YORK -- Reliever Brian Bruney had a successful bullpen session prior to Friday night's game, and manager Joe Girardi expects the right-hander to join the 'pen sometime next week.

Bruney was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right elbow flexor on April 25, and he came through Wednesday's 25-pitch session with no reported problems.

Girardi said Bruney will meet with team trainers to decide the next step, and there is a possibility that he could throw a simulated game or make a Minor League rehab appearance first.

Bruney made 35 throws in Friday's bullpen session, using all his pitches, and the Yanks' skipper noted that he was "coming around nicely."

The Yankees also got a more immediate boost in the 'pen with Phil Coke's availability on Friday night.

Coke, who has been sidelined since Tuesday with lower back tightness, tossed 18 pitches prior to Friday's game and said he felt great.

"If I'm not 100 percent, I'd say I'm about 98," said Coke, who has also been receiving daily treatment. "I'm ready to go."

Without Bruney, Coke has been Girardi's best option in the setup role, and the manager said he would use Coke in his regular role on Friday night.

Coke tossed a season-high two scoreless innings in Sunday's win at Baltimore, and is 1-2 with a 3.29 ERA in 15 appearances.

Injured catcher Jorge Posada is still experiencing tightness in his right hamstring, but Girardi was more optimistic about his progress than that of Jose Molina.

"He told me he was about 85 percent," Girardi said of Posada. "We will continue to monitor that situation ... he's going in the right direction."

Posada was placed on the 15-day DL on May 5 with a Grade 2 hamstring strain. Meanwhile, Molina has been shelved since May 8, when he suffered a strained left quadriceps while scoring in the game against Tampa Bay.

Molina was scheduled to be evaluated by the team doctors prior to Friday's game.

In the wake of injuries to Posada and Molina, the Yankees had used Francisco Cervelli and recent acquisition Kevin Cash behind the plate.

"You look at guys like Cervelli and Cash, they have done a good job," Girardi said.

Since his recall on May 5, Cervelli has appeared in six games and is batting .316 with an RBI. Cash, who made his Yankees debut catching A.J. Burnett in Tuesday's loss, was slated for his second start on Friday.

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.