8/22/2013 6:32 P.M. ET
Youkilis holding onto hope of returning this season
By Josh Vitale / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Kevin Youkilis is making progress in his recovery from June back surgery. Nothing exciting right now, he said, but still progress.
Youkilis, who underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back on June 20, has been doing trunk stabilization and core exercises with his physical therapist in New York for the past few weeks, but has yet to begin doing baseball activities.
"I've just got to keep hitting things, progressing, and every progression brings more excitement," Youkilis said. "Hopefully, in due time, I'll be able to do some baseball activities."
The first step toward resuming full baseball activities is swinging a bat, but Youkilis -- who batted .219 with two home runs and eight RBIs over 28 games this season -- still doesn't know when he'll be ready to do that. The third baseman hasn't had any setbacks or pain, but he still hasn't been cleared to swing.
When he is ready to resume baseball activities, Youkilis said he'd like start in New York before heading to Tampa to ramp up his recovery.
The original timetable for his recovery was 10 to 12 weeks from the surgery, which would place a potential return sometime in September. And even though he still hasn't been cleared to begin baseball activities, Youkilis still hopes to be able to play again this season.
"I'm hoping, for sure. If I had a magic ball that said I could be here on a certain day, I'd say it would be Sept. 1," Youkilis said. "For now, I really got to watch what I'm doing. I'm not really bright with a lot of the -- I ramp up things too quick sometimes. I need someone to pull the reins back."
Claiborne returns to Yanks, replaces Nix on roster
NEW YORK -- Preston Claiborne has had a whirlwind few days.
On Friday, the reliever was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Mark Reynolds. On Tuesday, he was called up to be New York's 26th man in a doubleheader against the Blue Jays and optioned back to the RailRiders right after the second game.
On Thursday, Claiborne was recalled to the Bronx again. The reliever is filling the spot on the 25-man roster vacated by infielder Jayson Nix, who was placed on the disabled list with a fractured left hand suffered in Wednesday's game.
Manager Joe Girardi said he didn't yet know an exact timetable for Nix, but said his guess was that the infielder would miss the remainder of the season.
The Yankees chose to call up Claiborne instead of another infielder because the bullpen's two long relievers -- Adam Warren and David Huff -- pitched a combined eight innings on Wednesday.
Claiborne entered play Thursday with a 2.74 ERA in 35 appearances for the Yankees this season.
"Do you go with a short bench, or short pitching?" Girardi said. "I really don't want to bring a position player into pitch, so I chose to go short bench. And if we have to adjust, we'll adjust. We've had to do it before."
Nix's injury -- and Claiborne's callup -- does leave the Yankees limited options off the bench. The only hitters available off the bench on Thursday were first baseman Lyle Overbay, outfielder Brett Gardner and catcher Austin Romine, leaving the team without a backup shortstop behind Eduardo Nunez until Derek Jeter -- who is beginning a rehab assignment with Scranton on Thursday night -- is ready to return.
Should the Yankees need to replace Nunez in the field for any reason -- he did miss a game Tuesday after suffering a hamstring injury on Sunday -- Girardi said he would have to get creative.
Girardi mentioned outfielder Alfonso Soriano could possibly be a part of the contingency plan because of his experience as a second baseman, but he was coy when asked if he would consider moving third baseman Alex Rodriguez over to short. If Girardi did move Rodriguez to short, Reynolds could play third base.
"Vernon [Wells] lobbied yesterday, and I said, 'I don't think so,'" Girardi said. "I have some ideas. Hopefully it doesn't happen, but we'll see."
• The Yankees are offering to reward fans who had tickets to Thursday's game, which was delayed by rain for more than three and a half hours at the start. Any fan with a valid ticket to Thursday's game can redeem it for a ticket to one of the Yankees' games against the White Sox on Sept. 2, 3, or 4 (subject to availability), whether they attended Thursday's game or not.
• Rodriguez said on Wednesday that he told his team of representatives to "shut it down" and keep the focus on baseball. Girardi said it was "a good thing."
"I commend him for it. Just try to put this on the side burner right now and focus on the task at hand," Girardi said. "I think out team has handled it well, with what's been going on. It's probably easier on Alex, easier to just focus on the game rather than focus on all the other stuff."
• Outfielder Curtis Granderson faced Blue Jays starter J.A. Happ for the first time since he suffered a broken arm after Happ hit him with a pitch in Spring Training.
• On this day in Yankees history, the Yankees claimed Luis Sojo off waivers from the Mariners in 1996. Sojo went on to win four World Series with New York.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.