Carlos Beltran expected to rejoin Yankees as DH Thursday

Carlos Beltran gestures after hitting a seventh-inning double

Carlos Beltran gestures after hitting a seventh-inning double in the Yankees 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox in a game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, April 13, 2014. (Credit: AP / Kathy Willens)

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The Yankees hope their struggling offense will get a major boost Thursday as Carlos Beltran is expected to be in the lineup against the A's.

Manager Joe Girardi, who is usually coy about saying when an injured player will return, could hardly contain his enthusiasm when asked if he would have Beltran back Thursday. "Pretty safe to say," Girardi said.

(Well, that's enthusiastic for him.)

Beltran has been out since May 13 with right elbow inflammation. Girardi said Beltran will be limited to designated hitter duties. Alfonso Soriano and Ichiro Suzuki will share rightfield.

"Definitely," Girardi said. "That's to try to limit the chances that the elbow acts back up . . . I think it'll be a DH exclusively until a little bit later on. Our first goal is to get him back as a hitter."

Beltran finished a three-day stint in extended spring training in Tampa Wednesday.

CC plays catch

CC Sabathia (knee) played catch for the first time since going on the disabled list May 11.

"It's a lot better than we were two weeks ago, I can tell you that," Girardi said. " . . . It's a step closer to getting him on a mound and getting him doing what we expect him to do."

Asked when he thought he might be able to return, Sabathia said: "Before the [All-Star] break hopefully, but we'll see."

Arms replacements

The Yankees called up righthander Jose Ramirez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and added lefthander Wade LeBlanc, whom they claimed off waivers from the Angels on Tuesday. Alfredo Aceves was designated for assignment and Preston Claiborne was optioned to Scranton. Ramirez, 24, was 2-0 with a 0.84 ERA and one save in seven games. LeBlanc, 29, had a 5.68 ERA in one appearance for the Angels. He has a 20-32 big-league record, mostly with San Diego.

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