TORONTO — On Thursday, Joe Girardi said he couldn’t rule out the possibility of second baseman Starlin Castro returning at some point during this weekend’s series against the Blue Jays.

On Friday, Girardi all but ruled him out.

“I wouldn’t count on it,” Girardi said. “He’s progressing OK, but I wouldn’t think it would happen, no.”

Castro, out the last five games with a Grade 1 right hamstring strain, said he was scheduled to take BP indoors Friday night and would progress to running outside Saturday.

Girardi said nothing specific happened between Thursday and Friday that made him more cautious regarding Castro.

“Just talking with the trainers and what they think,” Girardi said. “We just have to make sure it’s OK.”

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Girardi said he still believes Castro, the club leader with 21 homers, could return before the end of the season.

Half-day for Sanchez

Austin Romine caught Bryan Mitchell Friday night but that didn’t mean a complete day off for rookie catcher Gary Sanchez, who was the DH.

“Can’t catch Gary every day, that’s the bottom line,” Girardi said. “You have to give him some time off [the field], and I want to keep his bat in the lineup and this is one way of doing it.”

Sanchez went 0-for-2 with two walks Thursday night in Tampa but still brought a .327/.414/.857 slash line with eight homers and 17 RBIs in his previous 13 games into Friday.

Yankees videos

Butler doing it

The combination of Sanchez’s continued torrid pace and Billy Butler’s early success is costing rookie Tyler Austin playing time. Butler, 8-for-18 in his first six games as a Yankee entering Friday, started at first base with Toronto lefthander Francisco Liriano on the mound.

“It really comes down to Tyler or Sanchez in a sense,” Girardi said of his options against lefty starters if Sanchez doesn’t start at catcher. “It’s hard not to put Sanchez in the lineup.”