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09/14/10 9:26 PM ET

Swisher eyes return after treatment on knee

Outfielder receives cortisone shot, could return Friday vs. O's

ST. PETERSBURG -- Nick Swisher didn't love the moment when a needle plunged into the area around his left knee, injecting it with cortisone, but afterward he said he smiled for the first time in about a week.

A MRI examination taken on the Yankees outfielder's ailing knee Tuesday revealed only inflammation and no structural damage, which offers encouraging news to Swisher, who may be able to return to New York's lineup as early as Friday in Baltimore.

"It was actually good," Swisher said. "It was more of a pinpoint thing this time, and the major thing they found was there was still some inflammation in there. We took care of that with a cortisone shot today. I'm going to be back in there as soon as I can."

Swisher originally suffered the injury fouling a ball off himself in an Aug. 24 game at Toronto, and reaggravated it during the Yankees' recent home series against the Orioles.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi used Swisher as a pinch-hitter in Monday's 1-0, 11-inning loss to the Rays, but said he would "probably stay away" from putting Swisher back on the field Tuesday, just to be safe.

"There's not really anything structurally wrong, but inflammation can be a pain in the rear end too," Girardi said.

Swisher said he was pleased that the diagnosis seemed to be less vague and more specific, giving him the answers he was looking for about why his knee was still hindering his running and pain was beginning to seep into his hips and shoulders, among other areas.

The cortisone shot -- the first Swisher said he has ever received -- should begin to kick in after about 48 hours, which Swisher hopes will put him back in the lineup.

"I'm excited. I think we made good strides today finding a better game plan to treat this and get back on the field," Swisher said.

Gardner learns his lesson the hard way

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Gardner vows he'll never be thrown out at third base to end an inning again, a lesson he had to be reminded of the hard way in the 10th inning of the Yankees' 1-0 loss on Monday.

Television cameras captured Gardner being spoken to sternly by manager Joe Girardi and bench coach Rob Thomson in the dugout after he was picked off by Tampa Bay's Joaquin Benoit, running the Yankees out of a potential run-scoring situation.

"We just talked about what went into it, why I did what I did," Gardner said. "Obviously, with two outs you can't get thrown out going into third. I did, I screwed up. I take full responsibility. My fault."

Explaining the play, Gardner said he did not want to go into the details of what he saw, but he thought at the time that there was no way Benoit was going to attempt a pickoff on the 1-0 pitch.

"I was going to try to get to third and maybe take away his slider and give [Austin] Kearns a better pitch to hit," Gardner said. "I got a good jump and he picked, I wasn't expecting it."

Gardner is limited to playing defense and pinch-running on Tuesday with a sore left wrist, which received a cortisone injection on Monday. The Yankees have told Gardner not to swing a bat Tuesday in hopes his wrist will feel strong enough to play on Wednesday.

The speedster said that despite the wrist injury, he never hesitated to go into both second and third bases head-first on his steal attempts Monday.

"I'm not a good feet-first slider. I just always slide head-first," Gardner said.

Teixeira dealing with broken little toe

ST. PETERSBURG -- Mark Teixeira has been playing for two weeks with a broken little toe on his right foot, and the Yankees first baseman does not expect it to heal until after the season.

Teixeira suffered the break while batting on Aug. 31 at Yankee Stadium, when the Athletics' Vin Mazzaro clipped him in the foot with a darting slider. Though it has slowed him, the injury has not kept Teixeira out of the lineup.

"It just hurts," Teixeira said. "I asked the doctor when it'd be better and he said, 'When the season's over.' Unfortunately, it doesn't feel good all day long."

Through Tuesday's game against the Rays, Teixeira is batting .208 (10-for-48) since the injury, with no home runs and six RBIs.

"It's just a pain. It just hurts," Teixeira said. "I think the biggest thing for me is that I haven't been able to work out, I haven't been able to do extra work. Defensively, moving side to side, it's a little tough."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he does not think the broken toe has limited Teixeira, who has still been able to make diving plays like one he contributed Monday in the seventh inning to rob Carlos Pena of a hit.

"Not really," Girardi said. "I didn't think that we would have him the next day [after the hit-by-pitch], and he said, 'No, I'm fine. I'm ready to go.' Mark has an extremely high pain threshold and has played at an extremely high level for us."

Teixeira said the injury is no more of a concern to him than the bruised right hand he suffered diving for a ball during the Yankees' late August series in Chicago.

"It doesn't hurt any worse than my hand. You battle through it," Teixeira said. "You don't have any time to take off. We're battling right now."

Worth noting

One night after Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson were marked unavailable for the Yankees, almost the entire bullpen was expected to be available. The only player who would definitely would not pitch Tuesday is long reliever Chad Gaudin. ... The Yankees entered play Tuesday trailing the Rays by a half-game in the American League East. It was just the second day (also Aug. 4, one game back) since July 20 that they have not sat atop the division. ... The Yankees have suffered five walk-off losses this year -- and three in the last four games. They only suffered four in all of 2009. ... Left-hander Andy Pettitte is slated to go five innings or 80 pitches Tuesday for Double-A Trenton at Altoona. If healthy, he would rejoin the Yankees in Baltimore and could pitch Sunday against the Orioles.

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