Girardi: Youk unlikely to play again this season

Girardi: Youk unlikely to play again this season

Girardi: Youk unlikely to play again this season

NEW YORK -- On Thursday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said it wasn't probable that Kevin Youkilis would return this season. But even with only 22 games remaining in the regular season, the infielder isn't ready to rule out a 2013 return just yet.

Youkilis has been on the disabled list since undergoing surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back on June 20, but he's inching closer to getting back on the field.

After being limited to just core exercises at the end of August, Youkilis began taking tee and toss on Friday and has been throwing from 60 feet. The veteran has been doing all of his rehab work in New York, but he will travel to Tampa, Fla., on Monday to continue working during the Yankees' road trip.

"We're just going day by day. There's no magic ball," Youkilis said. "Hopefully if it all works out, I'll be playing this year."

Youkilis said he's experiencing some normal soreness in his back but no pain. The fastest anyone has returned after this sort of surgery is 12 weeks, and he's at 11 weeks right now. Youkilis said he's not going to be able to return after 12 weeks, but he's hopeful he can be ready to play for the last week of the season, and maybe even the postseason if the Yankees make it.

"I'm not going to sit here and say, 'Yes, I'm definitely going to play,' because if something happens, then I look bad," Youkilis said. "For me, it's about if I'm progressing well and getting everything in order. I feel great, and hopefully they'll allow me to play."

Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.