ANAHEIM, Calif. - Nick Johnson's back flared up again Saturday morning. He doesn't think it's serious, and neither does his manager, but Joe Girardi seemed a little more concerned while talking about it after the game than before it.

"I think he didn't completely tell us how sore he was," Girardi said. "I think he's a little bit sore."

That said, Girardi still left open the possibility of Johnson's being a late lineup addition today, though he added, "I expect him back on Tuesday for us."

Johnson, who took extra batting practice several hours before Friday's loss, said he "felt a little something" during regular BP.

Johnson played Friday, going 1-for-4, but told Girardi of the stiffness Saturday morning. He said he felt OK to play, but Girardi shut him down.

"Just trying to be smart about it," Johnson said.

Johnson, who surpassed 100 games four times in his first eight big-league seasons, said this stiffness is in a different area - "all the way down, near the rear" - from the tweak that occurred before the second spring training game, when he took batting practice in cleats rather than turf shoes and missed four days.

After an afternoon of treatment, Johnson said, "It's feeling a lot better right now."

Johnson, hitting .135 but with a .375 on-base percentage, thanks to 18 walks, isn't guaranteed to be back in the No. 2 spot when he does return. "That's something we'll talk about," Girardi said before yesterday's game.

Brett Gardner batted second and had three hits to raise his average to .340.

"It's something we'll look at," Girardi said when asked if Gardner is a possibility for the two-hole on a more permanent basis.

Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson also would be possibilities if Girardi decides to move Johnson, whose health is his primary concern.

"Backs are funny," said Girardi, who has a history of back trouble. "Backs can hurt one day and be gone the next day. But we have to make sure he's right."

More Yankees headlines