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08/25/09 7:16 PM ET

Gardner on mend, aims for next week

Outfielder takes swings, throws to test injured left thumb

NEW YORK -- Injured Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner tested his left thumb for the first time in nearly a month on Tuesday afternoon, and if all goes well, he could be activated in the next week.

Gardner took swings and threw at what he estimated to be 50-60 percent prior to the Yankees game against the Rangers.

"Everything felt pretty good," said Gardner, who is confident he can at least serve as a pinch-runner in the coming weeks.

The key in determining whether Gardner will be used for more than his legs is how his thumb holds up at the plate.

"He needs to get some at-bats," manager Joe Girardi said. "How many at-bats he needs, I can't tell you. But I think a lot of [his timetable] depends on how these first few days go."

Gardner was slated to be evaluated by team doctors following Tuesday's workout, and if he checks out OK, he will be permitted to test his thumb even further on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old was injured while breaking up a double play on July 25, sliding into A's second baseman Mark Ellis and reaching his left hand out to touch the base.

While the first-place Yankees would love to have Gardner back to establish some bench depth, Girardi preached a cautionary approach.

"I don't want to rush it to where he has a setback," he said.

New York's Opening Day center fielder, Gardner was hitting .275 (55-for-200) with 20 stolen bases in 85 games. Since May 13, he was hitting .308 (40-for-130) with 25 runs scored, three homers and 16 RBIs before landing on the disabled list.

Brittany Ghiroli is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.