Rafael Soriano eyes return vs. Red Sox

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi expects to have setup man Rafael Soriano back by the weekend after an MRI showed his tender right elbow had no serious problems.

Girardi plans on holding Soriano out of the next two games against the Royals, but thinks he could be available for this weekend's series against the Boston Red Sox.

"His MRI came back really pretty good," Girardi said. "He has a little inflammation."

Girardi said Soriano will play catch over the next couple of days to test the elbow.

"I think everything will be fine," Soriano said Wednesday night.

He added he plans on throwing on Friday and expects to be ready for Boston on Friday.

With Soriano out, Girardi's bullpen formula will have David Robertson pitch the seventh and Joba Chamberlain to set up Mariano Rivera.

Unrelated to Soriano's injury, the Yankees called up Luis Ayala to replace Lance Pendleton prior to Wednesday's game. Both are right-handed relievers.

Soriano told Girardi on Tuesday he could not pitch because of pain in his elbow. After the Yankees' 3-1 win over the Royals on Tuesday, Soriano said he thought he would be able to pitch in a day or two, but still wanted to have an MRI to be certain.

Soriano said he initially felt the pain a little more than a week ago in Detroit. It is the second time this season Soriano has picked up a minor injury that forced him to miss time. Soriano had elbow issues in 2008 but Girardi said at this point he doesn't think they are related. If it were to happen two more times, he thinks it could be a problem.

In Baltimore last month, Soriano declared himself out of a game against the Orioles with what he described as a pain in his back.

Soriano, 31, signed a three-year, $35 million deal with the Yankees in the offseason to be the team's eighth-inning setup man, but has not pitched particularly well in the eighth inning. In 15 appearances and 14 innings pitched so far this season, Soriano has a 5.79 ERA.

"We're hoping he pitches in the Boston series," Girardi said.

Right-hander Carlos Silva is expected to pitch at Double-A or Triple-A this weekend after making two starts at Class-A Tampa. He was released by the Chicago Cubs during spring training and agreed to a minor league contract with New York on April 9.

Andrew Marchand covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.