Gardner won't play before mid-March

Yankees left fielder yet to take live batting practice

Gardner won't play before mid-March

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees featured Brett Gardner in their lineup for 151 games last season, but they plan to wait almost two more weeks before allowing the outfielder to take his first swings in a Grapefruit League contest.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Gardner is not expected to play before the team's March 14 off-day, as Gardner is behind the rest of the outfielders due to a bone bruise in his left wrist that was aggravated during the American League Wild Card Game.

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Gardner said that he hit live pitching off a coach during Wednesday's workout -- his first time doing so after taking the winter off from hitting -- and will do so again Thursday. A date has not yet been set for him to take batting practice on the field.

"Everything today went well, so I'm sure [Thursday] will, too," Gardner said. "Just continue to progress. [I've] got to start somewhere."

Girardi said that Gardner still should have enough time to be ready for Opening Day on April 4 against the Astros.

"We will take it slow," Girardi said. "We will progress, so [Gardner's first game] won't be in the first two weeks. We will progress slowly. After the off-day at some point, we hope to get him in."

Gardner banged the wrist against the outfield fence at Yankee Stadium in the second inning of the season-ending loss to Houston. It was the final blow in a season that saw Gardner deal with issues after being hit-by-pitches in both wrists, requiring multiple cortisone injections.

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.