Yankees' Harrison Bader returns safe to first base after attempting...

Yankees' Harrison Bader returns safe to first base after attempting a steal on second base during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Saturday, May 27, 2023. Credit: AP/Bebeto Matthews

Harrison Bader, placed on the IL early last week with a right hamstring strain, is eligible to return Friday.

Speaking before Tuesday’s game against the White Sox, Bader said, while no longer feeling the injury, Friday “might be a bit of a stretch.”

“(Hamstrings) can be tricky and you don’t want to come back too soon, especially with the position I play,” the centerfielder said.

Bader, who missed the first month of the season with an oblique injury suffered midway through spring training, had been a significant contributor after returning. Besides playing Gold Glove-caliber defense (Bader won the NL Gold Glove in center in 2021 while with the Cardinals), he hit .267 with six homers, 19 RBIs and an .806 OPS in 26 games before getting hurt beating out an infield single May 29 in Seattle.

“Definitely going to take the next few days to build up appropriately and keep adding speed to what I’m doing,” Bader said. “That’s the biggest thing — I can do everything right now, it’s just matter of doing it at the speed where not only can I be successful for myself but more importantly for the team.”

Bader stressed he’s “over the hump” with the hamstring in terms of it limiting him in any way. The Yankees could choose to send him out on a rehab assignment but, if Bader is making the kind of progress he and the club say, games in the minor leagues might not be deemed necessary.

“I want to be in the field as soon as I possibly can (but) I don’t want to put a timeline on it,” Bader said. “I want to put myself in a position where I feel really, really good and confident so I can help the team and, like I said, that feels like it’s right around the corner.”

Now starting…

Though as of Tuesday afternoon the Yankees hadn’t yet put Nestor Cortes on the IL with a shoulder injury, Aaron Boone said Sunday in Los Angeles that would eventually be the case. Boone said righthander Randy Vasquez, a top organizational pitching prospect who made a spot-start against the Padres on May 26, allowing two runs and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, would take Cortes’ rotation turn on Wednesday.

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