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06/06/08 7:22 PM ET

Bruney may return around All-Star break

Injured righty originally projected to rejoin Yanks in September

NEW YORK -- Right-handed reliever Brian Bruney could return to the Yankees as soon as mid-July if he successfully rehabs from an injured right foot, manager Joe Girardi said Friday.

Bruney has been on the disabled list since April 24 with an injury to the Lisfranc joint of his right foot. Bruney opted out of season-ending surgery, and he said he'll head to Tampa, Fla., on Sunday to rehab.

"We're shooting for around the All-Star break," Girardi said of Bruney's return. "That's if everything goes perfect. He's going to start playing catch for the next couple of weeks."

Bruney had a 1.59 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings before the injury. His original diagnosis gave a September return at the earliest.

"That's a plus," Girardi said of the possibility Bruney might contribute earlier. "And the key is everything going according to what they mapped out, not having any setbacks in his rehab process."

Before Friday's game, Bruney made 60-foot throws in the outfield and said he'd later progress to 90 feet. Previously he had only been throwing 50 feet from a chair in an effort to keep his arm loose.

"Surgery may have been the right move, it may have not been," Bruney said. "I'm selfish to where I feel like I need the team more than they need me. I'm not a person to sit around and be injured, in a boot and not doing anything. If there's an opportunity to avoid that and come back, however minute that chance is, I'm going to try to do it."

Bruney slipped and fell while attempting to cover first base in the seventh inning of a Yankees victory over the White Sox on April 23. The injury affects the top of Bruney's push-off foot. It is more commonly known as a football injury, though former Yankees first baseman John Olerud missed the 2004 playoffs with a Lisfranc injury.

Willie Bans is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.