Curtis Granderson has oblique strain

Updated: March 24, 2011, 11:06 AM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- An MRI revealed Curtis Granderson has a strain of the internal oblique on the right side of his abdomen, an injury that may cause the New York Yankees center fielder to miss Opening Day.

"I'm slightly concerned,'' Granderson said shortly before the Yankees took the field Wednesday night against the Toronto Blue Jays with Brett Gardner in center and Andruw Jones, signed this offseason to be the fourth outfielder, in left, a position he is expected to play regularly until Granderson returns.

"I'm concerned just because of where we are time-wise,'' said Granderson, who has been told by manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman not to try to rush back just to play in next week's opener at Yankee Stadium.

"As exciting as Opening Day is and all, they told me to just make sure I was ready before I go back,'' Granderson said. "I guess it's better to have this now than later in the season.''

Earlier in the day, Girardi had said he believed "there's a chance that he's going to play Opening Day,'' but that was before Granderson took the MRI. Joba Chamberlain missed 10 days with a similar injury and Greg Golson missed 15 and did not even pick up a bat for 10 days.

"They told me I could start running again right away,'' Granderson said. "But as far as swinging, I think they're going to shut that down for a couple of days.''

If the Yankees decide to put Granderson on the disabled list, it could be backdated to Monday so that he would be eligible to return on April 6 and would miss only the first five games of the regular season.

In his absence, Gardner will move back to his old position, center field, and Jones would become the every-day left-fielder. Golson was optioned to Triple-A Scranton before the game, meaning Justin Maxwell, acquired in a trade with the Nationals this winter, would likely make the team as the fourth outfielder.

Granderson said he suffered the injury on his final swing of batting practice before Tuesday's game against the Orioles. He had been having a good spring, hitting .385 with three home runs and seven RBIs.

Notes

Phil Hughes pitched seven innings, threw 98 pitches, allowed 8 hits, three earned runs and struck out seven, most with a cutter/slider he tried in a game for the first time Wednesday as the Yankees rallied to beat the Blue Jays, 5-3. Hughes will probably make one more start on Monday in preparation for starting the second game of the regular season April 2 vs. the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. ... The Yankees got a scare when Nick Swisher fouled a ball off the instep of his left foot during a sixth inning at-bat. With their outfield already depleted by the injury to Granderson, the sight of Swisher hobbling around in obvious pain had to put some more gray in Girardi's hair. But the manager said Swisher was all right, just sore, and that no X-rays were planned. ... Girardi said he is still hopeful that Granderson will be able to play on Opening Day a week from Thursday at the Stadium. ... Girardi said Golson, optioned earlier in the day to Triple-A Scranton, might still be added to the Opening Day roster in the event Granderson has to go on the disabled list. Golson, who is still with the team since he is on the 40-man roster, replaced Swisher in right at the start of the seventh, and singled in the eighth. ... Derek Jeter, returned to the leadoff spot with a left-hander (Jo-Jo Reyes) starting for the Jays, doubled in the sixth. His spring average is .340. ... Jones, who started in left, a position he will keep as long as Granderson is out, went 0-for-3 including one double play and another ball that should have been but was booted, allowing the Yankees' four-run seventh inning to continue. Jones' average is an even .200. ... Mariano Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and Boone Logan struck out the side in the eighth, allowing one single. ... All the Yankees but one have a day off Thursday: Freddy Garcia pitches in a Class A minor league game at 1 p.m. at the Yankees complex across the street from The Boss. Real exhibition games resume Friday with a night game against the Astros. Ivan Nova gets the start.

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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