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Injured Gardner pinch-hits in finale vs. KC

Injured Gardner pinch-hits in finale vs. KC

Injured Gardner pinch-hits in finale vs. KC

NEW YORK -- The soft wrap on Brett Gardner's right ankle conceals what the Yankees speedster suspects is a somewhat nasty bruise, courtesy of a hit-by-pitch in Wednesday's 8-1 win over the Royals.

He didn't know for sure, because he wore it home after the game and hasn't peeled it off yet, but Gardner was happy to know that X-rays were negative and he could return to the Yankees' lineup on Friday against the Twins. He pinch-hit for Derek Jeter in the eighth inning of Thursday's 8-4 win over the Royals and flied out to center.

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"I have to get some treatment and get it loosened up," Gardner said. "My legs are a big part of my game, and if I can't run, there's no sense in playing. Hopefully, I'll be able to run."

Gardner was drilled in the sixth inning Wednesday by a J.C. Gutierrez fastball, but the outfielder was more interested in learning that Jeter was reinstated to the Yankees' active roster on Thursday morning.

"Derek's coming back today? That's awesome," Gardner said. "I know it's been a long time coming. Just the other day he wanted to start the season on time and here we are, Game [92]. ... It's great to have him back, not only on the field but off the field. He'll be a big presence, and hopefully, he's in every game the rest of the year."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that if Gardner had been available in the series finale on Thursday, he would have batted Gardner leadoff, with Jeter hitting second and Robinson Cano third. Instead, Ichiro Suzuki claimed the leadoff spot.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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