NEW YORK -- Second baseman Robinson Cano returned to the Yankees' starting lineup for Thursday's 11-5 loss to the Royals, one night being hit in the front of the head by a Nate Adcock pitch.

Cano, who left Wednesday's 11-inning, 4-3 loss after being beaned in the fifth inning, underwent a CT scan that came back clean. A follow-up appointment with a neurologist on Thursday also went well, and manager Joe Girardi was able to start Cano at second base and in his customary fifth spot in the batting order. Cano also ran on a treadmill to accelerate his heartrate and encountered no problems.

Cano said that he felt fine. The second baseman also said he would wear an oversized Rawlings S100 helmet for extra protection if he had to, but he would prefer not to. Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli wears that model, and Cano joked that he didn't want to look like Cervelli.

"I feel good," Cano said after Thursday's game, in which he hit his ninth homer, showing no ill effects of being hit. "I hope not to get hit again. I tried it last year once. The helmet is huge and heavy. I hope I don't have to use it."

Playing Cano at second base allowed Girardi to start Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and slide Derek Jeter to designated hitter for one night. Nunez entered Thursday having committed five errors in 22 innings at shortstop this season, but Girardi hopes that regular action at the position will help.

"I've seen this kid play short, and he's played it very well," Girardi said. "He's made some throwing errors, there's no doubt about it. You want him to get beyond that and get back to being the guy that he is. Part of that may be that he didn't play a lot at the beginning."

Cano has played 159 or more games in every season since 2007. He missed a game in Detroit last week with a bruised left hand but has proven durable since a hamstring injury sidelined him in 2006.

Chavez's injury may not be broken bone

NEW YORK -- Yankees backup infielder Eric Chavez, on the disabled list with left foot pain, may be recovering from a different injury than the one identified by his initial diagnosis last week.

After coming up lame while running the bases in Detroit, Chavez, the Yankees' reserve third baseman, was told he had a broken bone in his left foot. But Chavez said he has born with two small fractures in each of his feet. An examination on his return to New York by team doctor Christopher Ahmad and a foot specialist suggested that Chavez may have suffered only a bone bruise.

"The diagnosis was about as good as I could have heard," Chavez said. "When I did it, there was no doubt in my mind that there was a broken bone in my foot."

Chavez has stopped wearing a walking boot, which he said made the pain in his foot worse. He has not been running but has been swimming and receiving other treatment before each game. Chavez said he can stand on the foot without pain.

"It was something I had dealt with my whole life and had no issues with until last week," Chavez said. "We came back, checked both my feet, did an MRI and it looks like there is nothing new in there. Both pictures looked the same in both feet."

Injuries are nothing new to Chavez, although he said he has suffered from plantar fasciitis in both feet but never had any problems related to the fractures. Chavez, who was initially expected to miss at least a month, is playing the timetable for his return by ear.

"As we rebuild, we're just going to progress," Chavez said. "So, if in two or three days, I can magically just walk on it, obviously, we're going to speed up the process. If it's not ready, we're just going to keep waiting."

Chavez, who hasn't played more than 100 games in a season since 2006, is hitting .303 with a .410 on-base percentage in 39 plate appearances in a backup role this season.

Adding arm to bullpen, Yanks option Pena

NEW YORK -- One day after Wednesday's 11-inning loss to the Royals taxed an already-shorthanded Yankees bullpen, New York called up reliever Amaury Sanit and optioned infielder Ramiro Pena to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Sanit, 5-foot-8 Cuban-born right-hander, has struck out 24 and walked six in 16 1/3 innings with Triple-A this season. In eight games (two starts), Sanit, 31, posted a 2-0 record with a 4.96 ERA.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Yankees designated reliever Jess Todd for assignment. New York had claimed Todd off waivers from the Indians last week. Pena, who stayed at the big league level from 2009-10, did not play in this tenure, which lasted less than a week. The Yankees are now carrying eight relievers and 13 pitchers overall.

Rafael Soriano, the Yankees' regular eighth-inning reliever, has been dealing with right elbow discomfort. He did play catch on Thursday afternoon and reported no problems. After Thursday's 11-5 loss, manager Joe Girardi said he expected Soriano to be available for Friday's series opener against the Red Sox "unless something happens overnight."

Joba Chamberlain was unavailable on Wednesday after appearing in three of the previous four games.