Johnson in limbo; Granderson sprints

Updated: May 16, 2010, 12:48 PM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson is unlikely to return to action before the first week of June and could be out until August.

Johnson's sore right wrist may require surgery to remove inflamed tissue, GM Brian Cashman said. The surgery would keep him out four to six weeks on top of the month he already is expected to miss.

Cashman said Johnson got a cortisone shot in the wrist last weekend in Boston, but it will not be known for a couple of weeks if that treatment was effective.

If not, then Johnson is headed under the knife for at least the third time in his injury-plagued career.

"It's my intention to learn if [the shot] worked as soon as possible," Cashman said before Saturday's win over the Twins. "If not, then we want to go right to the surgery. When healthy, we know what this guy can do, but he can't do anything for us right now."

The Yankees signed Johnson to a one-year, $5.5 million deal after failing to come to terms with Johnny Damon, whose No. 2 spot in the lineup Johnson was expected to fill.

But Johnson struggled in the first 24 games of the season, hitting .167 with two homers and eight RBIs, plus 23 strikeouts in 73 at-bats.

He went on the disabled list May 8 after a game in Boston, his ninth trip to the DL in nine seasons. Johnson had surgery on the same wrist on his first tour of duty with the Yankees -- although Cashman said it was in a different area. Johnson also had surgery to repair a broken femur with the Washington Nationals.

"He'd be a $15 million a year player if he didn't have this history of injuries," Cashman said. "Instead you get what you get. When he's healthy you get a real productive bat but at the same time you have to deal with this, too. I knew what I was getting into when I started this thing."

Cashman said for now, Juan Miranda, a 27-year-old Cuban defector added to the roster from Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, would serve as Johnson's replacement.

"Juan's got ability and he's been waiting for an opportunity, so he's got it now," Cashman said. "For now, any problems we have will have to be handled with the roster or Triple-A. Nobody's interested in doing any business this early in the season. Before June 15, you're basically on your own."

The injury news out of the Yankees' clubhouse wasn't all bad, though. Center fielder Curtis Granderson, on the DL since May 2 with a strain of the left groin, ran eight sprints at the stadium Friday and hit off a tee for the first time since the injury and declared himself ready for the next phase of his rehab.

"I'm excited with how everything went," Granderson said. "But we still have to be cautious with it."

Granderson, who hoped to try running the bases as early as Sunday, could not put a timetable on when he might be ready to return. "It all depends on whether we have any setbacks," he said.

Reliever Chan Ho Park, out since April 16 with a hamstring strain, completed his rehab assignment with Scranton Wilkes-Barre Friday night and is expected to be activated in time for Sunday afternoon's game with the Twins.

"He does have a history of hamstring injuries, and it would be unrealistic to think it won't happen again at some point," Cashman said. "But when he's healthy, he's going to help us."

And right fielder Nick Swisher, troubled the past few games by soreness in his left bicep and removed from Friday night's game against the Twins and taken to a hospital for an MRI exam, was back in the lineup Saturday after taking batting practice.

Swisher, who felt pain Friday night on a swing-and-miss while batting lefty against right-hander Scott Baker, said he thought he could swing pain-free from the right side against Saturday's starter, left-hander Francisco Liriano.

When asked if he would be able to stay in the game if the Twins went to a right-handed reliever, he said: "I don't know. I really don't."

"I don't feel it swinging righty but I do lefty," Swisher added. "I've never had anything like it before. It's literally in the head of the bicep."

Swisher said the MRI showed no tear, just a slight strain of the biceps. But it still clearly bothered him somewhat, and he asked a clubhouse attendant for a pressure sleeve to wear over the injury before donning his uniform.

"I'm the kind of guy, man, I just want to be in the lineup," he said. "It's frustrating when you want to be in the there, but you also got to be careful. You don't want to turn two to three days into two to three months. We got a lot of guys down and I don't want to add to the list."

Rounding out the injury report is right-handed reliever Alfredo Aceves, who was placed on the DL Wednesday in Detroit with soreness in his lower back.

Aceves received an epidural injection on Friday and will need at least a week or more before he can resume baseball activities.

Wallace Matthews covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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