Aardsma with team but not quite back

David Aardsma had a locker at Target Field, Michael Pineda's old number on his back, and a big smile on his face, having returned to a big league clubhouse for the first time in two years.

But he still does not have a spot on the Yankees' roster.

Asked what he expected out of Aardsma, Joe Girardi said, “We really don’t know. He hasn’t pitched in a couple years. When we do activate him we’ll have to probably pick some spots to see how he does. Coming back from Tommy John is a serious thing, so we’ll have to see.”

Aardsma, who has not pitched in a major league ballgame since Sept. 19, 2010, as a member of the Seattle Mariners, and had Tommy John surgery in July 2011, was just happy to be back.

"It’s an amazing feeling, to be back in here, knowing that very soon, I’ll be back on a mound again," he said.

It's been a long road back for Aardsma, who suffered a setback during his rehab in July and was shut down for a month. "I haven’t faced a big-league hitter in two years, so I'm not expecting to go out there in the toughest situation ever," he said. "But I know my stuff's been good. It's been playing really well down in Tampa. When Joe calls down, or Larry calls, or whoever does it, and my name is called, I’ll be ready."

Aardsma, who saved 69 games in 2009 and 2010 as the Mariners' closer, said he believed he would be activated on Tuesday, although Girardi was evasive about it. “I don’t know if there’s anything he can really do at this point," Girardi said. "He’s not going to throw a simulated game for us. It’s just something we’ll just have to talk about."

In the meantime, Aardsma's uniform shirt has a 35 on its back, and he shares something with the most recent owner of that number. Neither he nor Pineda has thrown a pitch for the Yankees this year.

But unlike Pineda, at least Aardsma has a chance to.