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Ryan thinks he'll begin season on disabled list

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Brendan Ryan appears likely to start the season on the disabled list, as a pair of MRIs taken on Friday revealed a pinched nerve in the Yankees infielder's upper back.

Ryan has not appeared in a game since March 4, as he was sidelined with a lower back issue. Ryan had been scheduled to return to action on Thursday against the Red Sox, but felt discomfort in a different spot during infield workouts.

"Something's pushing on a nerve, so that explains the discomfort and that electrical feeling back in there," Ryan said. "I've got a whole bunch of pills to take and hopefully everything gets freed up."

Ryan has been limited to eight at-bats this spring, and manager Joe Girardi said that if Ryan is unavailable to play by Tuesday, he would likely start the year on the DL. Ryan did not seem optimistic about his chances of being on the flight to Houston for New York's April 1 opener.

"I just don't know how you could go into the season having single digit at-bats," Ryan said.

Girardi agreed, saying that while Ryan is being considered day-to-day, he is not expected to play before next week.

Even if Ryan can return to action, Girardi said that "it will still be tough because he's only got eight at-bats, and he's not built up, and he hasn't played multiple days in a row. Starting him is in jeopardy."

If Ryan is unavailable to start the season, Girardi has indicated that he would select two infielders from the group of Eduardo Nunez, Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte, all of whom Girardi is confident can play shortstop.

While Stephen Drew's name is sure to pop up in speculation, given that the infielder is still on the free-agent market, general manager Brian Cashman said that the Yankees should be able to get by with their internal options.

"I think right now as long as we stay healthy, all the answers are here in camp," Cashman said. "My job is to find someone better than what we already have, if at all possible. That never changes. If he can't go, we have somebody here who will be able to do that."

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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