ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Stewart had an audience as he ran the bases at Tropicana Field on Friday afternoon, testing the left groin strain that has kept him out of the Yankees' lineup since May 16.
Manager Joe Girardi, coaches Tony Pena and Rob Thomson and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue were all on the field as Stewart jogged from home plate to first base several times and then tried breaking from first to third.
The end result: a green light and starting nod to catch David Phelps against the Rays on Friday night.
"I was making sure I was able to round the bases and do what I need to do when I get out there," Stewart said. "But I'm not planning to run too hard. I'm planning to hit homers every time up, and then just jogging around the bases. We'll see how that goes."
Stewart said that he caught a bullpen session on Wednesday and blocked balls, so the groin strain should be healed.
"My legs are a little weak just from sitting around for the last week, not being able to use them," Stewart said. "But other than that, everything felt good and strong, so it should be good."