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07/13/12 6:15 PM ET

CC on schedule for Tuesday rotation return

NEW YORK -- CC Sabathia threw 30 pitches in a simulated game on Friday at Yankee Stadium and remains on line to return to the Yankees' starting rotation on Tuesday against the Blue Jays.

Sabathia is coming back from a mild groin strain suffered in a June 24 start against the Mets at Citi Field. He said that he was relieved to only miss two starts in New York's rotation.

"Anytime you're hurt, you never know; you always wonder if you're going to be 100 percent again," Sabathia said. "It felt good to be able to go out and throw a [bullpen session] on Tuesday, and to throw today and feel fine. I'm excited."

Sabathia sat down during the session to simulate an inning change, and said he is not expecting any pitch-count limitations in his next start.

"That's something we'll have to talk about, how many pitches we'd let him go," manager Joe Girardi said. "Some of it depends on how hard the innings are and if you feel that he's laboring. I wouldn't expect to throw him 110, 115 [pitches]."

The left-hander is 9-3 with a 3.45 ERA in 15 starts and said that he has been impressed with the Yankees' resiliency thus far. New York opened the second half of the season with a seven-game lead over second-place Baltimore in the American League East.

"We've had all kind of injuries, been through a lot of adversity, so to be able to be in the position that we're in now -- it feels good," Sabathia said.

Yanks ink veteran OF Fukudome to Minors deal

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have signed outfielder Kosuke Fukudome to a Minor League contract, and he is expected to report to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this weekend.

Fukudome, 35, opened the season with the Chicago White Sox, batting .171 with four RBIs in 24 games before being released on June 22.

"He'll go down to Triple-A, and if we feel that he can help us, I'm sure that's why we signed him," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "If there's a need, we'll use him. Right now, he probably needs to go play, but it gives us more depth."

A native of Osaki, Japan, Fukudome owns a combined career .258 batting average with 42 home runs and 195 RBIs in 596 games over parts of five seasons with the Chicago Cubs (2008-11), Cleveland Indians (2011) and White Sox (2012) organizations.

Bombers bits

• Outfielder Brett Gardner took batting practice on Friday and is expected to do so again on Saturday, then will graduate to a simulated game on Sunday. Gardner hasn't played since April 17 because of a strained right elbow, but could return to the Yankees at the end of this month if he has no further setbacks.

• Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he expects to "stand pat" with a five-man bench until CC Sabathia is activated for Tuesday's start. The Yankees added outfielder Darnell McDonald to the roster on July 6 after claiming him on waivers from the Red Sox.

• Girardi said that it is "really encouraging" that right-hander Joba Chamberlain is set to pitch two innings in a Gulf Coast League game on Saturday morning. The Yankees are optimistic that Chamberlain could be in the Major League bullpen in August.

• Brooklyn Nets All-Star guard Joe Johnson threw out Friday's ceremonial first pitch. Nets head coach Avery Johnson was planning to join the Bleacher Creatures for their first-inning roll call.

• On this date in 1934, Babe Ruth hit his 700th home run, off the Tigers' Elden Auker, at Detroit's Navin Field.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.