BALTIMORE - Although he is not considered one of the elite pitching prospects in the Yankees organization, Wilking Rodriguez nonetheless was seen as having a significant upside.

The 25-year-old has imperiled that future, at least with the Yankees, as MLB on Wednesday announced that Rodriguez received an 80-game suspension without pay after "testing positive for Furosemide, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program."

The Yankees signed Rodriguez last Aug. 18, a week after the righthander was released by the Royals. Rodriguez did not allow a run in four spring appearances and was assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"He threw the ball pretty well for us in spring training," Joe Girardi said. "I am [surprised]. It's a risk that players take when they don't know what they put in their body or they take something they know is illegal and think they're going to get away with it. I don't understand it but it's the world we live in."

Gardner improving

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Brett Gardner sat a second straight day with a sore right wrist but hopes to be back in the lineup Friday when the Yankees start a three-game series against the Rays in St. Petersburg, Florida.

"Definitely happy the way it feels the way it does," Gardner said. "It's not the same it was (Tuesday) so I'm headed in the right direction."

Gardner said if the wrist, hit twice in the last week by pitches, is particularly sore Thursday he could be sent for a precautionary MRI. An x-ray taken on it Monday came back negative.

Extra bases

Righthanded reliever Andrew Bailey is getting closer to being major league ready. He pitched for Class-A Tampa Tuesday night, then threw a bullpen at the minor league complex Wednesday. The Yankees have said the reliever throwing back-to-back games is the last hurdle he has to clear . . . Chris Capuano (right quad strain) is slated to throw to hitters for the first time during his rehab Thursday in Tampa.