KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Masahiro Tanaka's return to the rotation creeps closer.

Joe Girardi said before Saturday night's game that the righthander, on the disabled list since April 29 with a right forearm strain and right wrist tendinitis, will throw a bullpen session on Monday followed by a rehab start with one of the organization's minor-league clubs, likely on Thursday.

After Tanaka's second bullpen session of his rehab -- he threw 35 pitches Friday -- Girardi said the next step might be a game. After discussing it, the Yankees decided to have him throw another bullpen session.

"We just felt it would be good for him to throw one more," Girardi said. "Because he hasn't thrown in a while and just to make sure he's sharp."

Girardi would not say how many rehab outings Tanaka will need before returning. The safe bet is at least two.

When Tanaka landed on the DL, general manager Brian Cashman said "conservatively," he figured on him being out a month.

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"I think you have to see where he's at, how many pitches he gets to," Girardi said. "The one thing you don't want is you don't want to have to be in a situation where he can only give you three or four innings. So we'll go from there."

Tanaka's first rehab start, if it does take place Thursday, likely will be for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Double-A Trenton. Both have home games that day.

A-Rod to sit in D.C.?Girardi has not made up his mind what he will do with DH Alex Rodriguez in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday. He prefers not to have A-Rod play the field. Said Girardi, "The good thing about it is Monday I have a day off to think about what I want to do."

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Mitchell up, Ramirez downBefore Saturday night's game, the Yankees brought up righthander Bryan Mitchell from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned Jose Ramirez, who allowed four runs in the seventh inning of Friday night's 12-1 loss.

"Our bullpen the last couple of days has been used," Girardi said. "So we thought we'd get a guy who can give us some distance if we needed it."

Mitchell, 24, who impressed opposing team scouts early in spring training, was 2-3 with a 4.26 ERA in seven starts with Scranton.

"He's a young man who's got good stuff who's trying to become more consistent," Girardi said. "Obviously he's kind of the next man up if another starter went down."

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Capuano finally readyChris Capuano, out since suffering a Grade 2 right quadriceps strain while covering first base in his first start of spring training March 11, is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon.

"I feel great, ready to go," said the 36-year-old Capuano, 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA in two rehab starts for Scranton.

McCann, Gardner sit