Rain could be a factor in Jacoby Ellsbury's return Tuesday

Jacoby Ellsbury during spring training batting practice at Jacoby Ellsbury during spring training batting practice at Steinbrenner Field on Feb. 20, 2014. Photo Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

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TAMPA, Fla. - Jacoby Ellsbury finally will be ready to test his injured right calf Tuesday in a minor-league game.

If Mother Nature lets him, that is.

With rain forecast for Tuesday in Tampa, the Yankees still hope their $153-million centerfielder can play in an afternoon minor-league game. If not, they could start him in that evening's big-league exhibition game against the Phillies.

Or they could be cautious and scrap the whole plan rather than risk having Ellsbury play on a wet field. The problem with that is there will be only a week to go before the April 1 season opener in Houston, and Ellsbury needs at-bats.

"Well, there's not much I can do about that,'' Joe Girardi said about the weather. "You could just give him at-bats . We'll figure out what it is.''

Ellsbury, who hasn't played since getting scratched from the lineup on March 16, said: "Each day's definitely getting a lot better.''

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Ichiro Suzuki has been playing center in Ellsbury's absence. He went 1-for-3 with a double Sunday and is batting .225.

Extra bases

Derek Jeter went 0-for-3 and is batting .114. Both he and Girardi continue to insist they are not concerned . . . Dellin Betances' bid for a bullpen spot got a boost when he came in with one out and the bases loaded in the seventh, struck out Jose Bautista and got Edwin Encarnacion to fly to left. Betances' ERA is 0.87. The jam was created by Cesar Cabral, who faced three batters and gave up a hit and two walks, not helping his bullpen bid . . . The Yankees are off Monday, but Ivan Nova will pitch in a minor-league game and Francisco Cervelli will catch him.

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