Gardner feels good after taking swings in batting cage

Gardner feels good after taking swings in batting cage

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Gardner said that his bruised right wrist is improving, and he hopes that a full batting-practice session Friday will permit him to return to the Yankees' lineup.

Gardner has not played since Monday in Baltimore, when he was hit by a pitch from the Orioles' Wei-Yin Chen. X-rays taken in Baltimore and an MRI performed on Thursday showed only a bone bruise, and Gardner said that he is close to getting back on the field.

"If I don't get a chance to play today, hopefully tomorrow," Gardner said before the series opener. "I hit in the cage and it felt pretty good."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Gardner should be available for pinch-running or as a defensive replacement, but he was hesitant to hurry him back.

"My inclination is to give him one more day, but I want to see BP first," Girardi said. "He did take some swings off the tee and said he felt pretty good."

Gardner also was hit on the right wrist during the Yanks' first homestand and said that he will begin wearing a guard when batting, trying it out for the first time in batting practice Friday.

"It's made for that," Gardner said.

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.