Girardi not expecting Starlin back in Toronto

Girardi not expecting Starlin back in Toronto

TORONTO -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he's not expecting second baseman Starlin Castro to return to the lineup during New York's four-game weekend series in Toronto.

Castro has been out since sustaining a Grade 1 strain of his right hamstring on Saturday at Fenway Park.

"I wouldn't count on it," Girardi said about Castro returning this weekend. "He's progressing OK. I wouldn't think it would happen though. We would like to have him [before the end of the season], yeah."

Castro took batting practice on Friday for the first time since the injury, and he is hoping to run on the field Saturday before being re-evaluated.

"I don't know what the schedule is, or what they're going to tell me," Castro said. "The schedule today is go to the weight room right now, and then after that go hitting and let's see how I feel. I don't know yet, but maybe tomorrow I'm going to run a little bit outside."

The news came just a day after Castro said he expected to play in Toronto. The 26-year-old has hit .273 with a career-high 21 home runs and 69 RBIs in 146 games during his first season in New York, after six years in Chicago with the Cubs.

With New York having lost six of its last eight games entering Friday and quickly fading in its hopes for an American League Wild Card spot, the loss of Castro's bat could prove to be pivotal in a matchup with the Blue Jays, who own the AL's top Wild Card spot. Girardi said the staff will make sure Castro is fully healthy before reinserting him into the lineup.

"I've just been talking with the trainers every day and seeing what they think," Girardi said. "I'm not saying he won't, [but] I'm not counting on it is what I'm saying."

Ronald Torreyes got the start at second Friday.

Defensive breather for Sanchez
Gary Sanchez made his 14th start of the season at designated hitter, with Austin Romine behind the plate to catch starter Bryan Mitchell. Sanchez has made 31 starts at catcher since being called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Girardi wanted to get his young backstop some rest while keeping his bat in the lineup.

Romine caught Mitchell's start against the Blue Jays on Sept. 7, a 2-0 New York victory in which Mitchell went five scoreless innings.

"Romine's been catching Mitch and I thought he did a really good job in Spring Training, and I thought [Romine] did a really good job the other night when he faced them in our place," Girardi said. "He's hit left-handers and you can't catch Gary every day. That's the bottom line. I want to keep [Sanchez's] bat in the lineup and that's the way to do it."

Billy Butler also got the nod at first base against Blue Jays left-hander Francisco Liriano. Entering Friday, Butler was 8-for-18 with a home run and four RBIs since joining the Yankees, while collecting hits in all six games.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.