NEW YORK -- As the Yankees approached the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, general manager Brian Cashman repeatedly said he might stand pat, not believing he could upgrade over what they'd get back from the disabled list.
In the case of Rafael Soriano, the Yankees appear to have been correct. The right-hander has been nearly perfect since being activated on July 29, tossing six scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while striking out five and walking none.
"I feel really good," Soriano said after his one-hit scoreless inning in Thursday's 6-5 win over the Angels. "I worked very hard and that's what I'm looking for -- to pitch this way."
On Wednesday, Soriano helped clamp the damage in a big spot for Ivan Nova and the Yankees, inducing a double-play ball and a flyout to minimize the damage of a bases-loaded, none-out situation in an eventual 9-3 win over the Angels.
"I've talked a little bit about that -- it takes people a little bit of time to get used to new surroundings," Girardi said of Soriano, who led the American League with 45 saves last year for the Rays.
"He did throw some good games before he got hurt. We saw him as high as 95 [mph]. But it is nice to have him back, because it really strengthens our bullpen."
Soriano pitched on back-to-back days in the Minor Leagues while on rehabilitation from right elbow inflammation, which knocked him out in mid-May, and Thursday was the first time he did so since re-joining the Yankees.
Yanks to trim rotation; A.J., Hughes on bubble
NEW YORK -- The Yankees expect to have a decision by the end of the weekend on their starting rotation, with A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes on the bubble to be nixed from what is currently a six-man staff.
"We've talked about it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Thursday. "We feel we need to get it down to a five-man rotation and go with it."
Girardi said that the Yankees are going to make their final call before they head to Kansas City for a three-game series that opens on Monday.
That means that Burnett's most recent start on Tuesday, in which he hurled five good innings before imploding in a four-run sixth, will be the last impression the Yankees are considering.
Burnett is winless in seven starts since June 29, faring 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA over that stretch.
"Some of the games he has lost have been very close losses where we haven't scored a lot of runs," Girardi said.
Meanwhile, Hughes will get the ball on Saturday against the Rays, his first appearance since he had a start skipped due to a 13-pitch relief appearance on Sunday in Boston.
Hughes is 2-3 with a 4.55 ERA in six games (five starts) since returning from the disabled list in early July.
The Yankees have been carrying 13 pitchers since recalling Ivan Nova from Triple-A to start the second game of a July 30 doubleheader. Nova has won all three starts since then, cementing his place in the rotation.
CC trying to guide Burnett through rough stretch
NEW YORK -- After A.J. Burnett left a fastball up to Bobby Abreu in the sixth inning on Tuesday, he found himself hearing the voice of CC Sabathia, who has been trying to counsel him through his recent rough patch.
Burnett is winless since June 29, a run that has him under consideration for removal from the Yankees' rotation, but Sabathia has been looking to get his teammate back on track.
"I just tell him to make sure he stays calm and makes pitches," Sabathia said. "Stay under control, control your emotions and keep making pitches so you get deep into the game.
"I think he's getting a lot better at it. He's staying focused and making sure he locks in on all his pitches."
Discussing his start on Tuesday, Burnett credited Sabathia for helping him put the Abreu homer behind him, at least for the moment. It sparked a four-run inning and the Angels won, 6-4, but Burnett said he'd wait until after the game to get upset about it.
"That's one of the things 'Big Man' told me; he helped me out there," Burnett said. "A lot of times I'll get mad and take myself out of ballgames. I can't do that."
Those were lessons that Sabathia said he had to learn the hard way as a young pitcher finding his way at the big league level with the Indians.
"I think it's made me better," Sabathia said. "I would have a tough time controlling my emotions, get mad at different things, and I would have a hard time making pitches. So we've talked about that."
Sabathia and Burnett are forever linked, having signed their respective contracts on the same day in December 2008 at the old Yankee Stadium, but thus far, their careers in pinstripes have taken different paths.
Burnett has said that he is trying to have more fun and put things behind him, but Sabathia believes that the recent winless drought is wearing on his teammate.
"I think it would bother anybody," Sabathia said. "That's just human nature. You're a competitor and you're here to try to help this team win."
Granderson earns Heart and Hustle honor
NEW YORK -- Curtis Granderson was honored before Thursday's game against the Angels as the Yankees' 2011 Heart and Hustle Award winner. The award, presented by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association, honors active players who display passion and embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game.
The MLBPAA chose representatives from each Major League team. One player from that group will be chosen on Thursday, Nov. 3, at the 12th Annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City as the final winner.
Previous overall winners include David Eckstein, Craig Biggio, Grady Sizemore, Albert Pujols and Roy Halladay.
Granderson, who came to New York in 2009 in a trade from the Detroit Tigers, hit his career-high 31st home run in Wednesday night's 9-3 win over the Angels.
Alex Rodriguez will serve as the designated hitter in a 7 p.m. ET rehab game for Class A Tampa on Friday at Dunedin, and the third baseman could play the field on Saturday. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he wasn't sure if A-Rod would rejoin the team for their upcoming series in Kansas City from Aug. 15-17, but said it was probable Rodriguez would be back for the Twins on Aug. 18.
After serving as the designated hitter for three consecutive games, Eric Chavez got back to the field as the third baseman on Thursday, with Derek Jeter sliding into the DH spot for a day. The Yankees are looking to get Robinson Cano a DH day over the weekend against the Rays.
Girardi said that he was not sure when he would get Jorge Posada back into the lineup. Posada took ground balls at first base during batting practice on Thursday just to stay sharp, but he has not played since he lost his regular DH duties on Sunday in Boston.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @bryanhoch. Michael Martinez is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.