Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis primed

TRENTON, N.J. -- It's all systems go for Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis.

They're healthy and ready to play -- albeit a little rusty -- and they've stated their cases with vigor to general manager Brian Cashman. Barring a setback, they will be back in the lineup Friday night against Boston.

But first comes the prelim. On their trip from extended spring training in Florida to the Bronx, the recuperating Yankees sluggers made a cameo appearance as Breakfast Clubbers.

Youkilis and Teixeira are playing two games each with Double-A Trenton to readjust to higher-level competition, and as luck would have it, they picked a 10:35 a.m. start for the first one.

They've agreed to share the costs for the Thunder's food spread during their brief stop in New Jersey, and on Wednesday that meant lots of coffee, muffins and breakfast fare.

"We've been playing 10 o'clock games in Florida, so we were as ready for this as we were ever going to be," Teixeira said.

The results were nothing special. Teixeira went hitless with a walk in three plate appearances. Youkilis also went hitless with a walk, although he did score a run and would have had a single if not for a diving, acrobatic catch by Erie right fielder Tyler Collins in the first inning.

The rehabbing Yankees were also relatively untested in the field. Youkilis barely had to move to snare a line drive by Erie catcher Zach Maggard at third base, and Teixeira's workload at first consisted of five putouts on ground balls to his fellow infielders.

But after seven innings under a hot New Jersey sun, all parties were in agreement that the two Yankees will graduate from Trenton to a date with Clay Buchholz and the Sox on Friday.

Cashman, who traveled to Trenton for the game, said he trusts both players to be sincere with him about their physical status rather than speak with their hearts and their competitive instincts.

"I think they know how important all of this is," Cashman said. "Obviously their return is affecting other players. As much as they want to get back in and go full throttle, they're also good teammates. They're not going to put themselves in a position to have any setbacks and turn back the clock on their rehab."

Teixeira, who has missed the entire season with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, logged almost 40 at-bats in extended spring training in Tampa. He's remained pain free through check swings and all-out hacks, but still wants to see as many pitches as he can to get his timing back. All told, he saw 15 pitches Wednesday in three plate appearances.

At the moment, Teixeira said he's further along from the right side than the left. But that's typical of his experiences as a natural righty who learned to switch hit.

Youkilis, who has been out since April 28 with a lower back sprain, welcomed the opportunity to see Double-A competition after facing younger players in extended spring.

"A lot of those guys (in Tampa) are just babies," Youkilis said. "They're coming in fresh. Some guys here are a little more polished and they can command pitches better, so you kind of want to see that."

Cashman calls himself "old school" when it comes to rehabs, and he likes to see how players react to the adrenaline rush of a game, the sights and sounds of fans in the seats and the routine of sitting in the dugout for two innings at a stretch between at-bats. Youkilis and Teixeira were playing five-inning games in extended spring ball, but came to the plate every inning.

"Extended spring is chain-link baseball, and guys can only get so much out of that," Cashman said.

The return of Teixeira and Youkilis is welcome news for a Yankees team that's relied on Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner and some unexpected shock troops to get off to a 30-21 start, good for second place behind Boston in the AL East. Heading into Wednesday's games, New York's first base contingent ranked 24th in the majors with a .711 OPS. That breakdown consists of 44 starts from Lyle Overbay, five by Youkilis and a Corban Joseph cameo. Across the diamond at third, David Adams, Jayson Nix, Youkilis and Chris Nelson have combined for a .704 OPS -- 17th in the majors at the position. But the Yankees have only four home runs from their third basemen all season.

Amid speculation that the roster spots of Overbay and/or Adams could be in jeopardy with the pending return of Youkilis and Teixeira, Cashman declined to address the potential fallout.

"Like we've been doing all along, we make this up as we go along," Cashman said. "First things first. We appreciate what the 'B' bombers have done, but we're looking forward to getting the 'A' team back."

Teixeira and Youkilis, who've known each other since their college days at Georgia Tech and Cincinnati, respectively, seem to be enjoying their stint as rehab buddies. This is the second career appearance in Trenton for Youkilis, who hit .344 in a 44-game pit stop with the Thunder in 2002. He took note of the upgraded weight room, revamped clubhouse and improved batting eye since his previous stint in Trenton.

"We always used to fight with the old general manager about trying to make it so the signs here aren't white," Youkilis said. "It was tough to see."

Some things never change in the minors. Teixeira was the designated R-B-Ice Cream Player of the Game and could have won a free ice cream for each of the 7,395 fans in attendance by driving in a run. But with a pop fly, a walk and a strikeout, he failed in his quest.

"Now you tell me," he said with a laugh.