Yanks taking cautious route with Ellsbury

Yanks taking cautious route with Ellsbury

TAMPA, Fla. -- On the eve of the Yankees' spring opener, manager Joe Girardi said that he had filled out his first five lineup cards of the year. Jacoby Ellsbury's name did not appear on the first three, but he says that's part of the plan.

"I think I would like to play more games at the end," Ellsbury said. "I talked to them and [they] said, 'Yeah, get a few extra days of work in and then play in the first game.' So we have a lot of them."

Ellsbury, 32, is scheduled to make his spring debut on Saturday against the Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. ET on MLB.TV. That will make him the Yankees' last projected starting position player to appear in a Grapefruit League game.

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Though Ellsbury said that he is healthy, the Yankees may be taking a cautious route, because the outfielder has been slowed by injuries during both of his first two springs with the Yankees.

In March 2014, Ellsbury was off the field late in camp with a right calf injury, and last year an oblique strain kept him out of spring action. Neither injury kept Ellsbury out of the Opening Day lineup, and he said he will pace himself through the first few weeks of the spring schedule.

"Yeah, I think that's the plan, just kind of build into it, and play a little bit more games late," Ellsbury said. "That's the plan now and I think that's a good approach to it."

Girardi has mentioned that he would like to find a way to keep both Ellsbury and Brett Gardner healthier this year. Gardner is not expected to play until after mid-March as he recovers from a bone bruise in his left wrist, and Aaron Hicks' versatility could help the Yanks spell both speedsters.

"I don't suspect that being the plan, but I haven't talked to Joe about that," Ellsbury said.

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.