Rafael Soriano 'progressing'

NEW YORK -- New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Monday that right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano could get back on a mound after the team's six-game homestand concludes Wednesday.

"Maybe," Girardi said. "We'll have to see."

Soriano, who was placed on the disabled list on May 17 (retroactive to May 14) with right arm inflammation, played catch on Sunday.

The Yankees believe that the inflammation can be cured with rest.

"He's progressing," Girardi said Sunday.

Soriano, however, has had arm issues in the past. He dealt with a significant elbow injury in 2008.

Soriano, who signed a three-year, $35 million contract in the offseason with an out-clause that will allow him to leave after the 2011 season, last pitched on May 13.

He has struggled to adapt in his new environment -- both on and off the mound.

Soriano has already given up nine earned runs -- or three fewer than he surrendered all of last season, when he had 45 saves as the closer of the Tampa Bay Rays.

In 15 innings out of the Yankees bullpen, the 31-year-old setup man has a 1-1 record and a 5.40 earned run average.

Soriano recently caused a stir in Tampa when he told reporters that the Yankees' woes had to do with the offense, and he could not be utilized in his regular role with the team continually trailing.

Pedro Feliciano, who hasn't pitched in 2011 due to a left rotator cuff strain, said he will begin a throwing program on June 1. He hopes to return to the mound a few weeks later and predicted that he could be back on the field at some point in 2011. He was previously expected to miss the season due to the injury.

Girardi said the team would "stay away from" right-hander Joba Chamberlain on Monday, leaving the Yankees relatively depleted in the bullpen. Chamberlain said that he was unavailable because he'd pitched in six of the last eight games, not due to the eye infection that he's been dealing with. He said the infection was treated with drops and will not affect his availability going forward.

As for right-hander Phil Hughes' return date to a mound, the 24-year-old right-hander said he will play catch Tuesday and hoped to ramp up his throwing program to three to four consecutive days. He will travel with the team to the West Coast but does not know when he will get back on the mound.

Hughes was placed on the disabled list on April 16 with right arm inflammation, or what has been referred to as "dead arm."

Hughes has been cleared by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad to continue his throwing program.

"I feel good now and I am pushing to get on a mound as soon as I can," Hughes said on Saturday.

Girardi said that corner infielder Eric Chavez (foot) had his boot removed, but hasn't begun to run yet.

Until he does prove that he can run, Chavez won't be able to get back on the field.

Mike Mazzeo and Ian Begley are regular contributors to ESPNNewYork.com.