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Yankees close to activating Brett Gardner

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NEW YORK (AP)

Speedy outfielder Brett Gardner could be activated from the disabled list soon to give the New York Yankees a potential pinch-runner on the bench.

Gardner has been sidelined since April 18 with a strained right elbow that required surgery in July. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said the team doesn't expect Gardner to be able to hit again this season, but his legs and glove could be useful down the stretch.

Gardner ran the bases and worked on bunting Saturday before New York played Tampa Bay. He said he feels 100 percent and could be a couple of days away from being able to appear in a game. He plans to practice sliding headfirst in the next day or two.

New York began the day tied with Baltimore atop the AL East.

Girardi said the Yankees aren't sure yet if they'll feel it's safe for Gardner to play the outfield. The injury was to his non-throwing arm, but the team's concern is that his arm could get caught underneath him on a dive - which is how he got hurt early in the season.

''I'm not swinging a bat right now. I might start doing that next week, we'll see how that goes,'' Gardner said. ''If there's a situation where I can pinch-run or possibly play defense down the road, I'd like to help out.''

In other news, Derek Jeter was the designated hitter for the third straight day because of a sore left ankle. Eduardo Nunez, who made a key error late in Friday night's loss to the Rays, started at shortstop again and homered his first time up.

Girardi said Jeter won't play the field until at least Tuesday.

Ichiro Suzuki, who entered 14 for 46 (.304) against Rays starter James Shields, batted leadoff for the second time with the Yankees. Jeter was dropped to the No. 2 hole.

Tagged: Yankees, Rays, Derek Jeter, Brett Gardner

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