PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. - Jacoby Ellsbury, out with an oblique injury and only now starting to take some light swings, still has little doubt he'll be ready by the April 6 opener.
"Today's a nice little step in the right direction in the sense of swinging," Ellsbury told reporters in Tampa before participating in tee-and-toss drills. "But yeah, I feel pretty confident that I'll definitely be in the Opening Day lineup."
After the session, Ellsbury said: "It went great."
Ellsbury has not played in a game since March 15, but Joe Girardi said he won't be concerned about the centerfielder's Opening Day status unless he's unable to play by next Tuesday in a minor-league game.
Last March 14, Ellsbury injured his calf and did not play during the rest of spring training but still was ready for the opener in Houston April 1. "The way I feel right now, I feel very confident," he said.
"Hopefully I can get about a week of games. We'll see how it goes."
Girardi said a call on who will close between struggling righthander Dellin Betances and lefthander Andrew Miller could come next week, but maybe not.
"That's a decision that I think will be talked about a lot next week," Girardi said. "It's something that has not been at the forefront of what we're doing. In a perfect world, you have a seventh-, eighth-, ninth-inning guy, but in today's world, if we don't, we'll make it work."
Setback for Pirela
Utilityman Jose Pirela, who suffered a concussion when he ran into the centerfield wall Sunday against the Mets, felt dizziness Thursday after riding an exercise bike. "He'll see a neurologist again," Girardi said. "That's the hardest thing to predict with the concussion. Even though he looked great, he got dizzy today, so we'll back off a little bit."
Refsnyder's rough go
Infield prospect Rob Refsnyder has lived up to his all-hit, no-field reputation. Refsnyder, 24, who started at DH but was a defensive sub at second base Thursday, went 1-for-3 with a walk to increase his batting average to .323. But he booted a routine grounder in the eighth inning for his team-leading fifth error.
With Forbes recently setting the Yankees' value at $3.2 billion, managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner was asked in two radio interviews Thursday about the possibility of selling the club. "No, it's not enticing in any way, shape or form," he said on the Michael Kay Show. "This is a family business, many of us are involved from the family and we know this is what our dad would want. He would want us to carry on the tradition, and we're not going anywhere."
With Neil Best