Brett Gardner out through July

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner, who has played just nine games all season, won't return for at least another two-and-a-half weeks, general Brian Cashman told ESPNNewYork.com.

"The earliest you will see him is the 27th of the July at the major league level," Cashman said Tuesday.

Gardner has been sidelined with a right elbow strain, an injury he suffered while diving for a ball in mid-April. After the initial diagnosis, the Yankees had hoped Gardner would be back in two weeks.

Gardner made it to minor league rehab games before having to be shut down again. After going to see elbow specialists, the hope was that Gardner would return shortly after the All-Star break.

The best-case scenario now is that the speedy Gardner will be in a Yankee uniform toward the end of the month.

"He is swinging off of a tee," Cashman said. "He's been fine but as you know, his first two outings that's what he did. He was fine until he got all the way through a major league rehab. There is going to be a lot of, 'He's fine,' up until he is playing in rehab games."

Even without Gardner, the Yankees have received tremendous production from veterans Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones. Ibanez is batting .240 with 11 homers and 36 RBIs, while Jones is hitting .244 with 11 homers and 22 RBIs.

"Do we miss Gardner? Yes," Cashman said. "Have we missed Gardner? No. I can say that about everyone of our guys that have gotten hurt. This is exactly what we thought we would get (from Ibanez and Jones.)"