An admittedly "antsy" Mark Teixeira is closing in on returning to the lineup but his leg isn't quite where it needs to be.

"Swinging a lot better, fielding ground balls a lot better but running is still a little bit of a struggle," said Teixeira, out of the starting lineup since leaving last Monday's game with a bone bruise on his right leg. "Hopefully, that comes back quick."

The first baseman did jog before Monday night's game but "it's not quite there yet running."

Teixeira said he has progressed to the point where he can pinch hit, and he was on deck last night in the ninth when the Yankees won it. Joe Girardi said his "hope" is that Teixeira will be in the lineup tomorrow.

"Today was the first day hitting felt really good," Teixeira said.

Girardi expects Teixeira to return by Friday at the latest. "My feeling is he will definitely be better by then," Girardi said. "It's just a feeling. I don't have any medical knowledge or anything special. I just feel like by Friday, I really think he'll be ready.''

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After last Monday's game, doctors told Teixeira he likely would be out at least seven days, a frustrating prognosis but, given the way he felt at the moment, he fouled the ball off the leg, not an unwelcome one.

"I thought I broke my leg," he said. "So this is really good compared to what I thought happened."

More rest for A-Rod

Alex Rodriguez (0-for-3) was back in the lineup after a two-day break and the 40-year-old is likely to get even more rest this weekend in Atlanta, where there will be no DH, because Girardi said he doesn't foresee using him in the field. At least, not as a starter.

"I don't really have any plans of doing that," Girardi said. "Just from the physical standpoint, I think it would be difficult. Now, we get into a National League ballpark and you have to make a double switch, all bets are off."

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With Erik Bacharach