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08/07/08 8:04 PM ET

Pudge news music to Yankees' ears

Day after collision, catcher expected to return on Friday

ARLINGTON -- Two shin guards, freshly borrowed and returned, sat in the locker adjacent to Ivan Rodriguez. With Rodriguez unavailable following his collision at home plate and backup Jose Molina subbing in Wednesday night's game, the Yankees needed to see what their emergency catcher, Justin Christian, could do. And Christian needed shin guards.

So the Yankees sent Christian down to the bullpen to catch a few pitches on Wednesday, and Rodriguez gave him both the equipment and some advice.

"I said catch the ball in front," Rodriguez said.

But a day later, Christian's bullpen performance had manager Joe Girardi questioning his emergency-catcher role.

"After the reports last night, I'm not sure," Girardi said.

Christian might not have excelled at the position, but Rodriguez certainly does. So the Yankees were relieved on Thursday to hear that their starting catcher was feeling better, with only a deep bruise hampering his right knee. The knee was still red and swollen and Rodriguez was still walking with a limp, but he said he could play if needed.

Molina started in his place on Thursday night, but Girardi said he expected Rodriguez to be back in the lineup come Friday.

"It was a little sore, but when it goes down, it feels better," Rodriguez said.

Injuring the knee when Rangers outfielder David Murphy bowled into him Wednesday at home plate, Rodriguez left the game after several moments on the ground. But Murphy endured the worst of the collision, hitting the disabled list with a right knee sprain.

Rodriguez did not have an MRI on his knee after on-site tests revealed only a bruise.

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.