Johnson takes pain-free BP

Johnson takes pain-free BP

BALTIMORE -- Nick Johnson took batting practice on Tuesday and reported no ill effects, hoping that his stiff lower back has calmed enough that he will be able to return to the lineup on Wednesday.

Johnson felt his back tighten after taking extra batting practice on Friday in Anaheim, and played in that contest, going 1-for-4, before being shelved. He has taken anti-inflammatory medications and said that everything has loosened up.

"It doesn't affect my swing," Johnson said. "I'll just continue to get treatment, but it's good to go. It won't hinder me at all."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he would like to stay away from using Johnson as a pinch-hitter on Tuesday. He said that it was no lock that Johnson -- batting .135 (7-for-52) with a .375 on-base percentage -- would immediately return to the No. 2 spot in the lineup.

"The first thing we've got to do is get Nick back, and then we'll go from there," Girardi said.

On Sunday, Johnson requested a number change, switching back from the No. 26 he had been wearing to the No. 36 he wore with the Yankees in 2002-03. No. 36 had been used by reliever Edwar Ramirez before he was traded in Spring Training, but Johnson didn't express an interest in the switch until now.

"I had it when I was here the first time. I'm not superstitious or anything," Johnson said.