Ellsbury's return tentatively set for Friday

Ellsbury's return tentatively set for Friday

ANAHEIM -- Jacoby Ellsbury was in uniform for the Class A Tampa Yankees on Monday, and the working plan is for the outfielder to play three Minor League rehabilitation games before possibly being activated on Friday against the Rays in New York.

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Ellsbury led off for Tampa on Monday against St. Lucie, serving as the designated hitter at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. Playing his first game since May 19, Ellsbury finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout in St. Lucie's 2-0, 12-inning victory.

"The big thing is that he feels that he's ready," Girardi said. "He's going to know better than we are. We could say needs to play such and such days, and then then he'll say he's not ready, or he's ready before, so let's just get through these three to four days and go from there."

Ellsbury has been on the disabled list due to a strain of the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee, which he sustained in a game against the Nationals in Washington.

Girardi said that when Ellsbury returns, he anticipates restoring Ellsbury to the leadoff spot and moving Brett Gardner -- the reigning American League Player of the Week -- back down to the No. 2 hole.

"I'd like to have him back and hopefully hit in front of me," Gardner said. "It would be ideal. I enjoy leading off but I also enjoy hitting second between him and Alex [Rodriguez]. That's a pretty good spot, so I'm excited to get him back."

Worth noting

• After catching the last three games in Houston, Brian McCann was out of the lineup on Monday, which Girardi said was due to the Yankees facing Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson. Girardi said that he believes John Ryan Murphy has been showing improvement in his backup role.

"I think he's done a really good job, and it's not easy for a young player to do that because they're used to playing every day and having regular at-bats," Girardi said. "He's done a really nice job both offensively and defensively."

• Injured left-hander Andrew Miller (left flexor forearm muscle strain) had an off-day from throwing on Monday after playing catch the last two days in Houston. It is possible that Miller could resume throwing from a mound while the Yankees are in Anaheim, and may rejoin the active roster before the All-Star break.

"A lot of it just depends how this goes," Girardi said. "The one thing I've said all along is you do not have to have him go four, five, six, seven innings. We don't have to do that. We're only looking at a guy that has to have the ability to throw 25 pitches, so I think it's a possibility."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.