Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, making his return from the disabled...

Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson, making his return from the disabled list, gets animated while talking to teammates during warmups for a game against the San Diego Padres. (Aug. 2, 2013) Credit: AP

SAN DIEGO -- Two wayward pitches broke bones in Curtis Granderson's right forearm and left pinkie finger in a three-month span this year.

But before making his second return Friday night, Granderson said the possibility of a third such injury isn't on his mind.

"It's one of those things, I've been hit before, it's not the first time, it definitely won't be the last time,'' said Granderson, who hit fifth and started in leftfield for the Yankees against the Padres. "We've had some games down in the minor-league rehab where balls were inside, I got hit running the bases. The ball's going to hit me at some point in time, but I just have to go out there and keep playing. I can't play scared, I can't play timid. I have to go out there and leave it out there for nine innings.''

It was only the ninth game of the season for Granderson, who suffered a broken right forearm in his first at-bat of spring training Feb. 24 when he was hit by Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ.

The outfielder, a free agent after the season, made it back May 14 -- only to get hit in the left pinkie by Rays lefthander Cesar Ramos on May 24.

His rehab from that injury took him much longer than the original prognosis of four to six weeks, though he says he now has "no problems at all'' with the hand. "It took a little bit [longer],'' said Granderson, who struck out with runners on first and third, grounded out and lined into a double play in his first three at-bats Friday night. "The fingers had been bent down for three weeks, so opening them was a little bit of a challenge. Once I did, I still didn't have the strength, so little things like putting a batting glove on, putting my fielding glove on, I couldn't do, so I hadn't even tried to swing a bat. That slowly started to come back, and once it came, it started to go quite quickly.''

Granderson played in four minor-league rehab games -- going 2-for-11 in two games each at Class A and Double-A -- before flying cross-country to join a team desperately in need of some offensive punch.

Granderson, who totaled 84 homers in 2011 and 2012 and hit .250 with one homer and one RBI in eight games in 2013, said it's not just about him returning. It's about Derek Jeter and Jayson Nix -- both of whom recently came off the DL -- Alfonso Soriano and maybe even Alex Rodriguez, though MLB will have something to say about that.

"I don't plan on a complete turnaround just because myself or anyone else ends up returning to the lineup,'' he said. "The great thing for Joe [Girardi] is it gives him more flexibility. You start with Soriano, you get Nix back, Jeter back, myself back, Alex hopefully back here next week. Now you have a couple of more pieces you can move up and down, in and out of the lineup. It will give him more weapons to go out there with and hopefully we'll start getting a couple more runs here, a couple more hits and hopefully get hot.''

Said Girardi, "He can do a lot of different things. We're excited to have him back. We just have to keep him healthy.''

Granderson's return likely will relegate Soriano to mostly full-time DH duties and significantly cut into Vernon Wells' playing time.

Notes & quotes: CC Sabathia allowed five runs, 11 hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings Friday night and the Yankees brought a 6-2 deficit into the eighth. In his last four starts, Sabathia has allowed 27 runs (22 earned), 37 hits and 10 walks in 192/3 innings . . . Eduardo Nuñez started at third Friday night, something the Yankees had said they didn't want to do because he struggled as he attempted to play multiple positions. But with Jeter back, Nuñez is going to get an opportunity at third and at short on off-days for Jeter. "We'll evaluate every day what we think, but we're going to give him a shot,'' Girardi said.

Nuñez took grounders at third before Wednesday night's game in Los Angeles. "I think it's not enough,'' he joked before saying he doesn't think it will be a problem: "I've been in this situation before.'' . . . Melky Mesa was sent to Triple-A to make room on the roster for Granderson.

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