D-Rob in the house, but Sori will close

NEW YORK -- David Robertson was in the clubhouse this afternoon, having thrown a bullpen here before tonight's game with the Rays, but is still by his own estimate "eight or nine days, hopefully'' from returning to action after suffering an oblique strain that landed him on the disabled list on May 14.

Robertson threw a bullpen in Tampa on Monday and now will remain with the team until he is sent on a rehab assignment, which won't happen until after he throws a couple of live batting practice sessions to his teammates later this week. Robertson said his injury was now pain-free.

"I've been cutting it loose,'' he said. "Now it's about getting sharp again, and game-ready.''

But even when he is ready, it is not likely that Robertson will unseat Rafael Soriano from the closer's role, where he has excelled, successfully converting all seven of his save opportunities.

"We're probably going to put Robby in some situations in the eighth inning when he comes back and then we'll just go from there,'' Joe Girardi said. "Soriano has done a very good job, whatever we've asked him to do. We feel that they're interchangeable (but) Sori has the experience down there. Let's just get Robby back and see how he's throwing the baseball, but I expect that we'll try to insert him into the eighth inning to start out.''

When that statement was relayed to Robertson, he seemed to agree with it.

"He's good,'' he said of Soriano. "What do you want me to say about it? He's got a lot of saves under his belt. He knows how to pitch. I didn't ever think about it as me being the closer. I don't care. As long as we win games, I don't really care.''