Yankees plan to activate Sanchez vs. Cubs

Out with a right biceps strain, catcher homered in first at-bat of rehab appearance

Yankees plan to activate Sanchez vs. Cubs

NEW YORK -- Seven more innings behind the plate and a few morning at-bats are the only hurdles remaining before Gary Sanchez reclaims his slot in the Yankees' lineup on Friday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Sanchez went 2-for-4 with a first-inning solo home run and a fourth-inning RBI double for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday at Lehigh Valley, with both hits coming off former No. 1 overall pick Mark Appel. Sanchez was scheduled to catch for the RailRiders again on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. ET.

"We have not changed the plan," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There's a good chance he'll be in Chicago."

Sanchez has been on the disabled list since April 8 due to a right biceps strain, sustained while fouling a ball off against the Orioles in Baltimore. Sanchez is slated to DH on Thursday morning, when the RailRiders play a 10:35 a.m. contest against Lehigh Valley, then could hop a flight to Chicago.

Girardi has indicated that he plans to have Sanchez bat second when he returns. Sanchez is 3-for-20 (.150) with one homer and two RBIs this year.

There was speculation that the Yankees might accelerate Sanchez's return when catcher Austin Romine sustained a groin cramp that forced him to exit in the sixth inning of Tuesday's 11-5 victory over the Blue Jays. Girardi said that Romine's condition had improved on Wednesday.

"Strength is really good. Flexibility is really good," Girardi said. "I believe he's available if I need him. He thinks he's just sore from the cramping."

Bombers bits

Jacoby Ellsbury (bruised nerve in left elbow) is showing signs of improvement, according to Girardi, though the Yankees won't decide about a potential disabled-list stint until Thursday. Ellsbury injured the elbow crashing into the center-field wall during Monday's 7-1 loss to Toronto.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. 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.