KANSAS CITY -- Eduardo Nunez is not in the lineup again Friday, but he once again reported that his sore ribcage is feeling "much better," and for the first time Joe Girardi sounded as if he agreed with him.
"I think he's a player if I need him," Girardi said, meaning Nunez could possibly pinch-hit, pinch-run or play the field. "I’ll wait and see how he feels a little bit later, and I'm hoping that he’ll be a player for us tomorrow. He looks a lot better than he did a few days ago. So I think it’s a good sign and we need to get him back out there."
Before the game, Nunez hit in the cage for the first time since the injury and said he felt good enough to play. "But it's not my call," he said.
• Joba Chamberlain, on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain, threw a bullpen session Friday afternoon and said it went "awesome." Girardi said Chamberlain would throw again on Sunday, and if that goes well, Chamberlain could be sent on a brief rehab assignment before being re-activated. "I wouldn’t imagine he would need much," Girardi said. "If he’s OK Sunday I wouldn’t imagine he’d need much more after that."
• According to Girardi, Kevin Youkilis, on the DL since April 28 with a lumbar sprain, did some "rotational work" Friday, but it doesn't sound as if he is close to returning. "I don’t have an expectation of when we’re going to see him," Girardi said. "I know he’s going in the right direction. You know, backs are tricky. It can lock you up. So right now, he's not a player for us, but hopefully it will be soon."
• Much has been made about Mariano Rivera's return to Kauffman Stadium, the site of his season-ending knee injury last May, but his actual return to the mound may be delayed by another day. Girardi said he might be inclined to stay away from Rivera on Friday, since he has pitched in two games in a row. Girardi also said he would almost certainly not use David Robertson on Friday. He too has pitched in two games in a row, and on Thursday he worked a rare 1 1/3 innings.
• Still no decision on who will pitch the "other" game of Monday's makeup doubleheader against the Indians in Cleveland. David Phelps will start one of them -- Girardi has not determined which one yet -- and either Adam Warren, Ivan Nova, or yes, CC Sabathia are candidates to pitch the other. On Thursday, Girardi had ruled out Sabathia, who started the rain-delayed 3-1 win over the Rockies. But on Friday, Girardi said he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild were reconsidering, since Sabathia only threw 50 pitches. "I think a lot of it depends on what happens here this weekend," Girardi said. "We may not know until Sunday night."
• Girardi's next win will be No. 578 of his managerial career, and No. 500 as Yankees manager, a milestone Girardi said he was unaware of. "Well, I'’ve had some good teams," he said. "I've been fortunate to be able to be a part of this organization and have this opportunity. I’m thankful for it. I’'ve really enjoyed it."
• Girardi said that when the season began, he thought the Yankees would be good. But he acknowledged that he did not anticipate they would be this good: 20-13, a .606 winning percentage, and atop the AL East by percentage points after 20 percent of the season has been played.
"I felt there was talent here, I did," Girardi said. "I wasn't sure, with some of the guys coming off injuries and some down years, how they were going to respond. But they've responded extremely well. Sometimes when you look at numbers, the numbers don't make a lot of sense, but the guys have gotten really timely hits, and we've made some big pitches when we had to up to this point. For that, they should be proud of themselves, but it's still only a 33-game sample or whatever it is. We have a long ways to go, but I like the way they're playing."
• Phil Hughes, Friday's starter, is 4-1 with a 5.52 ERA against the Royals, and 2-1 with a 5.17 ERA at Kauffman Stadium. Royals starter Wade Davis is 2-3 with a 3.96 in 10 career appearances against the Yankees. Travis Hafner is 4-for-6 against Davis, and Ichiro Suzuki is 8-for-16.