Yanks expect sluggers to return soon

NEW YORK -- The Yankees could have both Curtis Granderson and Kevin Youkilis back in their lineup by around mid-May.

On Wednesday, Granderson took a significant step in his rehab from his broken right forearm. In Tampa, Granderson batted in an extended spring training game, according to manager Joe Girardi. It was the first time that Granderson appeared in a game since breaking the forearm on the fifth pitch he saw in his first at-bat of the spring.

Meanwhile, Youkilis, placed on the DL on Tuesday, said doctors told him after providing an epidural for his lumbar spine sprain that he should be able to come off the DL around the middle of the month.

Granderson and Yankees GM Brian Cashman have said that once Granderson starts hitting, he likely would need 50 at-bats to be ready for the majors. It should take Granderson a little more than a week to two weeks to reach that number.

"The big thing to me is not so much the number, but that he feels that he is ready," Girardi said.

Girardi said Granderson came through the at-bats healthy.

"It is a good sign," said Girardi of Granderson, who had two-at-bats Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Cashman said the Yankees made a mistake by letting Youkilis play on Saturday. Youkilis had missed the previous week trying to heal what was described as a stiff back.

By appearing on Saturday, the Yankees were unable to back-date his DL stint. Instead, Youkilis will not be able to return until May 13 at the earliest instead of more than a week earlier.

"There is no one to blame here," said Youkilis, 34. "I think I'm more to blame than others because I probably should have said I'm not 100 percent. It was probably my mistake."

Youkilis said the epidural will take about a week to fully medicate, so if he were eligible to come off the DL sooner, he would not make much, if any, difference.

Youkilis said the injury has caused the same inflammation and bulge of a disk in his back that he has had before. It rubbed the nerve in his back, causing discomfort down his leg, he said. The epidural, according to Youkilis, should cure the problem.

"There's about 100 different things that could be way worse," Youkilis said.

Doctors assured Youkilis that surgery would not be needed.

"I'm actually pretty happy about it," Youkilis said. "Seeing as there wasn't anything crazy because people have things in their back that can get really jacked up and get surgery and all that. An epidural is probably the greatest thing to get. Everything after that is probably a lot worse."

Youkilis is being replaced by Jayson Nix at third. On the season, Youkilis is hitting .267 with two homers and seven RBIs.

To help replace Youkilis, the Yankees announced after Wednesday's game they had acquired Chris Nelson from the Colorado Rockies for cash or a player to be named later.