- Wallace Matthews, ESPNNewYork.com
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Brett Gardner, who has played in just nine games this season due to a lingering right elbow problem, took some "dry swings'' today in Tampa and -- and this is a best-case scenario -- could be back in action by about June 8, when the Yankees open a three-game series at home against the Mets.
New York Yankees
"I'd say it's probably about 10,'' Joe Girardi said when asked for a realistic estimate of the earliest the Yankees could expect Gardner back. "I think now he's probably got to swing and miss (at live pitching), going through that a couple of days in a row to see how it responds. And then he's got to go through some games.''
Girardi said Gardner was "probably a week'' away from a rehab assignment, and the number of games he would have to play is yet to be determined. It is all very iffy because Gardner has been at this point before, only to re-injure the elbow -- he originally hurt it diving for a ball in the outfield on April 17 -- playing in his second rehab game nearly a month ago.
But he did pass the first step, which gets him a little closer to returning to the lineup, which Girardi believes has suffered in his absence.
"I think he changes our lineup, the speed that he provides and his ability to create runs,'' Girardi said. "Everyone is going to have to hit and contribute, but he does give you a little bit different element than the rest of our team.''""
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