ST. PETERSBURG -- Tuesday was the day Rafael Soriano made his first rehab appearance since landing on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation on May 17. But it wasn't the day Yankees manager Joe Girardi would say with any certainty that Soriano will reclaim his job as setup man upon returning.

The way Girardi sees it, there's no need to jump the gun.

"Look, I'm not saying what I'm going to do or what I'm not going to do," Girardi explained prior to the second game of a four-game series against the Rays. "The biggest thing is I have to get this guy healthy and know how he's throwing the baseball. If he's throwing the baseball the way that he's capable of, I've got a great thing going, because I have two guys that can do the same job. And that's a great problem to have."

That other guy is David Robertson, who made the American League All-Star team and has posted a 1.21 ERA while doing an admirable job filling in for Soriano as the eighth-inning man.

Before landing on the DL, Soriano had a 5.40 ERA and a 1.73 WHIP in 15 innings. He then struggled in his first Minor League rehab start on Tuesday night, giving up two runs on two hits while throwing 21 pitches in 1 1/3 innings for the Class A Tampa Yankees.

When asked on Thursday in Toronto if Soriano would be his setup man when activated, Girardi said: "Let's just see. Let's just get him back first."

Five days later, the manager's thoughts essentially remained the same.

"We have to see how he's throwing and how he's feeling before I can make any determination," Girardi said. "The big thing is we have to get him back healthy and throwing the way that he's capable of. We'll just see what happens. But we have to get him back first."

On the one hand, of course, are Soriano's struggles and recent injury, which included a serious setback. On the other, there's the fact that the Yankees gave him a three-year, $30 million contract to pitch the eighth inning.

Since Soriano has been out for more than two months, Girardi could work him back slowly before giving him the later innings. If Soriano struggles, then the decision to stick with Robertson as the bridge to closer Mariano Rivera may be an easy one.

But if both are pitching well?

"Right now, it's just hypotheticals -- my favorite," Girardi said with a wry smile.

"Let's make those decisions when I have to," he added. "Let's not make them tonight."

While also appearing in his first rehab game as a designated hitter for the Tampa Yankees, Eric Chavez, out with a bone bruise on his left foot, went 0-for-3 with a walk.

Girardi said that neither Soriano nor Chavez would be ready for the Yankees' home series against the Athletics this weekend.

Nova forced out of Triple-A start early

ST. PETERSBURG -- Right-hander Ivan Nova left his start for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday after just 1 1/3 innings upon turning his right ankle, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after his club's 3-2 loss to the Rays.

Nova hurt himself after planting to field a comebacker to his left, then pulled up lame and limped off the field.

Details on the severity of Nova's injury were not immediately available.

Nova went 8-4 with a 4.12 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) in the Majors this season and is a leading option to be brought up if any of the Yankees' current starters struggle. After giving up a run in his 1 1/3 innings, the 24-year-old sports a 3.38 ERA in three Minor League starts.

Mo on cusp of extending record streak

ST. PETERSBURG -- With one more save, Mariano Rivera will have done it again. He will have notched 25 saves for the 15th consecutive season.

Excuse his Yankees teammates for the collective yawn.

He's so good, they never expect anything less.

"He's the best ever," longtime teammate Jorge Posada said. "That's the only way I can explain it. He doesn't surprise me with what he's doing. I think we're used to him doing it for so long that we really take it for granted how good he is, to tell you the truth."

Rivera's current streak of 14 straight seasons with 25-plus saves is already a record since saves became an official stat in 1969. The right-hander has reached the 30-save plateau 13 times in his career, which is one shy of the record by Trevor Hoffman. His eight straight seasons of at least 30 saves matches Hoffman for the longest streak in history.

Soon enough, that record can be Rivera's, too.

"I never pay attention to that stuff," said Rivera, who has posted a 1.75 ERA en route to 24 saves. "If you don't mention it, I wouldn't know. I really don't think about it. Because it's not about me. It's not about what I do. It's about the team concept. Yes, on the way to all that, you will have some individual achievements. But at the same time, I don't think about it."

The 41-year-old Rivera ranks second all time in saves with 583 and has a great chance to catch Hoffman (601) by the time he finishes his current contract, which runs through the 2012 season.

The question is if Rivera will continue to play past that contract.

Rivera does tend to render age meaningless.

"I haven't thought about it," Rivera said. "That's another thing -- I don't go too far away. I just go with what I have to do. I know I have a contract for next year, and after that, we'll see; we'll see what happens. I won't be thinking that far. But after that, we'll see."

Garrison up as Yankees place Mitre on DL

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees reliever Sergio Mitre had been battling a bacterial infection recently, but it was right shoulder tendinitis that had been ailing him most and perhaps led to a drop in velocity over his last few outings.

Because of that, Mitre was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday, with lefty Steve Garrison getting his first big league callup to likely be utilized in a long-relief role out of the Yankees' bullpen.

Manager Joe Girardi wasn't sure how long Mitre would be out, but the veteran right-hander had been getting treatment to address swelling in his right rotator cuff for a few days.

Reacquired from the Brewers on June 29, Mitre has given up nine runs (seven earned) in four appearances for the Yankees in a span of 5 1/3 innings and had lost some velocity and movement in recent appearances.

Garrison went 3-6 with a 6.26 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) for Double-A Trenton. The 24-year-old spent almost the entirety of Spring Training with the Yankees -- posting a 5.23 ERA in 10 1/3 innings -- and in that time, Girardi liked some things.

"I liked his ability to throw strikes," said Girardi, who now has a second lefty in the bullpen to go along with Boone Logan. "We put him in some tough situations, and he was able to throw strikes and throw his breaking ball behind in the count."

Garrison was originally a 10th-round Draft pick by the Brewers in 2005 who was traded to the Padres as part of the deal that landed Scott Linebrink in Milwaukee in July 2007, then was claimed off waivers by the Yankees last September.

Garrison was in Trenton, N.J., with his phone on silent on Tuesday morning, so he missed about seven calls from Trenton Thunder trainer Tim Lentych telling him he was getting called up. After finally picking up the phone, Garrison rushed to the airport in Philadelphia, caught a direct flight to Tampa International Airport and -- unlike Brandon Laird on Monday -- arrived with plenty of time to spare.

Now, after six-plus seasons in the Minors, Garrison can finally call himself a Major League player.

"I haven't stopped sweating since I woke up this morning; that may be a sign that it's starting to sink in a little bit," Garrison said. "It's definitely a great experience."