Nady cleared for next step in rehab

Nady cleared for next step in rehab

BALTIMORE -- Xavier Nady has circled Friday on his personal calendar, and it is an important date for the Yankees outfielder. It is the first day he will be able to pick up a bat without looking over his shoulder.

Guarding a partially torn ligament in his right elbow, Nady has been limited to light exercises in his activity as he attempts to avoid season-ending Tommy John surgery. He is looking forward to being cleared to resume hitting off a tee and soft toss when the Yankees return home.

"I'm human -- I've picked up a bat and swung it, even though I'm probably not supposed to," Nady said. "I think a lot just goes on how it feels."

The 30-year-old has had two injections of an experimental treatment on the injury, which he suffered making a throw from right field on April 14 at Tropicana Field, feeling sharp pain as he hit cutoff man Derek Jeter on a routine play.

Nady said that he believes he could begin a rehabilitation assignment as soon as May 25 and hopes to rejoin the Yankees as at least a designated hitter in early June. The fact that the Yankees have thus far declined to put Nady on the 60-day disabled list speaks to their optimism.

"There's progress here," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You have to wait and see how he feels once the right arm gets involved. The time has passed where we feel that he's safe to do it, and that's a good thing."

Under the care of Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad, Nady is having platelet-rich plasma injected directly into the area around his partially torn ulnar collateral ligament. The blood is drawn from Nady and spun to isolate the platelets, which doctors believe can help speed healing.

"It was extremely uncomfortable the first time," Nady said. "The second time was a little better, probably because my ligament wasn't so injured. If it helps, if there's any benefit to it, of course I can power through a minute of pain."

While the procedure has a track record in sports, having helped Red Sox reliever Takashi Saito and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, it was used more widely in Europe and was recently approved in the United States.

Nady said the idea was suggested by the Yankees medical staff as an option to what Nady had feared was a foregone conclusion: a second Tommy John surgery, having also had that performed in September 2001.

"They thought it'd be a good idea to try it out," Nady said. "It was funny. Every day going into it I felt pretty good, and then obviously it gets sore from the injections, especially going in the elbow. Hopefully it's doing some magic and it will feel good in the long run."

Nady said that he had only been cleared to begin performing biceps curls with his right arm on Sunday -- "That was exciting," he grinned -- and has hitting one-handed in the cages. He also been keeping busy by shagging fly balls on the field when weather permits.

Nady was hitting .286 through seven games for the Yankees this season, after batting .305 with 25 homers and 97 RBIs last season. Should Nady be able to resume his year, he said he would have to modify his workout program to reflect a chance of re-injury.

"Obviously it's something now that you've got to be a little smarter with," Nady said. "I guess in this game, anything could go. But maybe I could have a better plan of exercises during the year. You just take it for granted because it's never bothered you."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.