ANAHEIM -- The reinforcements may not be on their way quite yet, but Joe Girardi did have some encouraging news on one member of his Broken Brigade rehabbing down in Tampa.
"Alex ran the bases today at 75 percent and felt pretty good," the manager said. "I'm curious to see how he feels tomorrow or the next day, but that's something that he hasn't been doing, and that's good."
In case you've forgotten, Alex's last name is Rodriguez and he is expected back sometime after the All-Star break following hip surgery in January. There is still no timetable for him to play in any rehab games yet, so it is safe to assume his return is still more than a month away.
Same goes for Curtis Granderson, whose broken left hand still has a pin in it. Granderson will be examined by the team's hand specialist next week in New York, but Girardi did not know if the pin would be removed at that time.
However, Francisco Cervelli, who had the pin removed from his broken hand more than two weeks ago, is still suffering from soreness and swelling in his hand and is unable to grip a baseball, which may give an indication of how long it will take Granderson to return.
"Curtis' is in a different spot," Girardi said. "I would say we're hoping [Cervelli will swing] next week. That would, in a sense, probably put him a little bit ahead of Curtis."
And there is still no known timetable for Derek Jeter's return.
It all adds up to this: Barring a trade deadline game-changer, the team Girardi has now is likely to be the team he has for most of the remainder of the season, if not all of it.
"I think you have to assume that," Girardi said. "I'm pretty sure that we're going to get Grandy back. Broken hands heal, there's no doubt about that. And I really believe we're going to get the other two back, just not sure when."
-- Before yesterday's game, Girardi was asked if he had considered benching Travis Hafner, who is hitless in his past 23 at-bats and has just five hits in his past 53, and replacing him at DH with Lyle Overbay. "It’s not something that we’ve talked about," Girardi said. "We really believe that Haf is going to hit. It’s not something we’ve really considered to this point; we’ve considered him to be our DH. You look at things as things go on and you make evaluations."
Clearly, after last night's 5-2 loss, some re-evaluation was done. Overbay is today's DH and Hafner is on the bench. "I just thought I'd give Haf and Wellsy [Vernon Wells] a day off," Girardi said.
Asked if he considered putting Overbay back in right and keeping Hafner at DH to retain two left-handed bats in his order against RHP Tommy Hanson, Girardi said, "I just thought I’d do it this way. I liked Neal’s at-bats yesterday, so I'm giving him a chance in left, too."
That would be Thomas Neal, who made his first start in right field Friday night and went 1-for-2 with a walk. Today, he replaces the slumping Wells, whose single Friday night snapped an 0-for-13 streak. He has just eight hits over his past 77 at-bats.
-- This will be David Phelps' first career start against the Los Angeles Angels, although he has made three relief appearances against them, allowing three hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings for a tidy 1.23 ERA.
-- The Yankees have never beaten Hanson, who is 2-0 with a 3.48 ERA in his only two career starts against them.