Brendan Ryan's back a problem

TAMPA, Fla. -- This winter, the Yankees took out a two-year, $5 million insurance policy on Derek Jeter's health. That policy was named Brendan Ryan.

Now, with the team eight days from breaking camp, the Yankees need to find an insurance policy for the insurance policy.

Brendan RyanAfter undergoing "a couple of MRIs" on his back at a local hospital, a dejected Ryan acknowledged it was unlikely he would be ready to play anytime soon and would probably begin the season on the disabled list.

"Something’s pushing on a nerve, so that explains the discomfort and that electrical feeling back in there," Ryan said in the Yankees clubhouse before the start of tonight's game against the Pirates. Ryan said no disk damage was found, but "everything's snarled up in there."

He was prescribed a course of anti-inflammatories and said a cortisone shot to try to reduce the swelling was a likely next step. What was not likely was that he could ready to play in a major-league game by April 1 considering he has played in only four preseason games, and none since March 4.

"I know I’ve got 7 or 8 at-bats or something like that, so that's good there," he said. "I need to see curveballs. I just need to get to that point where I’m comfortable recognizing pitches and not costing the team with being an automatic out."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Ryan was visibly stiff at the Yankees annual Boys & Girls Club Luncheon this afternoon, after which he was sent for the test. "He wasn't moving real good," Girardi said.

Ryan's injury opens up a spot for the Yankees to carry another reserve infielder in addition to Eduardo Nunez; the likely candidates are Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte. The backup infielder position is important because Jeter, who will turn 40 in June, is coming off an injury-riddled season in which he played just 17 games, and Girardi has repeatedly spoken about the need to rest him regularly throughout the season.

GM Brian Cashman seemed to indicate the Yankees would not go shopping for infield help -- Stephen Drew is still available on the free-agent market -- but would be able to fill the vacancy from within.

"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."