ATLANTA -- According to Joe Girardi, we know what Brett Gardner does not have, which is ligament damage in his right elbow, the type that requires Tommy John surgery. And that is good news.
But we still don't know what Gardner does have, which made his surprise appearance in the Yankees clubhouse this afternoon puzzling and a little bit ominous. Gardner was examined Monday by Dr. James Andrews, the elbow specialist, and will travel to Cincinnati on Wednesday to be examined by Dr. Tim Kremchek, the Reds' team physician.
Asked what Andrews told him, Gardner said, "I'd rather not say. I'm going to just wait until (Thursday), until we get everybody's opinion before we say anything. If there's something different on Thursday then we gotta open up a whole new can of worms."
New York Yankees
And when asked if he was at least encouraged by what he heard from Andrews, Gardner said, "Well, I haven't been too awful disappointed, so I guess that's good news. But I'd rather not get too much into it."
That sounded pretty bad, especially considering the Yankees' recent history with injury disclosures. (Remember, they kept telling us Michael Pineda's shoulder soreness wasn't serious, until, of course, it was.)
But Girardi, while trying to maintain the same level of secrecy as his disabled left fielder, did reveal that the Yankees do not believe Gardner has ligament damage in his elbow, which would almost certainly mean surgery.
"I don't think it has anything to do with that," the manager said. "I want to see what the other doctor says, then we'll see what we're going to do and how we're going to approach it. I don't think Gardy's (injury) is anything to do with the ligament."
Gardner first suffered the injury while diving for a ball on April 17 against the Twins at Yankee Stadium. At first, the injury was termed a bone bruise, but was later changed to an elbow strain. And on two occasions, Gardner has reached the stage of playing in rehab games, only to suffer a setback. The most recent occurred last Thursday in Charleston, when Gardner felt pain in his third at-bat of a Class A game and shut himself down.
"It's not as much of a pain-tolerance thing as it is a range-of-motion thing," Gardner said. "It just affects my swing, especially when I swing and miss. It just doesn't feel right."
Gardner has played in just nine games all season. He was hitting .321 with a .424 on-base percentage at the time of his injury. "Actually, it doesn't seem like I've played any games this year," he said. "A lot of the season's gone by and I haven't been on the field a whole lot, but I been trying and that's all you can do."
Gardner said he still expects to make a significant contribution to the Yankees this season. Asked if he believed he would play again this year, Gardner said, "Oh, absolutely, absolutely. I sure hope so. I definitely think I will."
Asked if anything Andrews told him caused him to feel that way, Gardner said, "It really doesn't matter what he said. I think I'm gonna play."