Catcher Russell Martin, right, speaks with Jorge Posada, left, during...

Catcher Russell Martin, right, speaks with Jorge Posada, left, during spring training. (Feb. 16, 2011) Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

TAMPA, Fla. - Russell Martin blocked balls in the bullpen Friday morning, but during live batting practice, Phil Hughes gave the catcher's right knee the best test of all.

Unintentionally, of course.

Two of Hughes' 25 pitches went awry, short hops that forced Martin to move laterally for the first time in camp.

The Yankees had avoided having Martin move that way, playing it cautiously with his knee, which isn't quite 100 percent and will keep him from catching at least the first two, and probably three, exhibition games.

But Martin saw significant progress Friday. After successfully blocking each wayward pitch, Martin gestured playfully at manager Joe Girardi and exulted, "Oh, yeah!" as if he had passed an important test.

"This is the best I've felt," Martin said after the session.

Girardi said Martin won't catch until sometime next week - he didn't specify when - but said he'll give the catcher a game at DH before then, perhaps as early as Sunday.


Brackman sidelined

Andrew Brackman, who has impressed plenty of staff members and executives during camp, will be sidelined a few days as the result of discomfort in his groin, which the 6-10 righthander felt for several days during workouts before telling the team Thursday.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said "you never know with things" but indicated the problem isn't serious. "This seems to be very, very minor," he said. "It's really more precautionary than anything else. It's something I'm keeping an eye on. I want to keep the momentum going with him because they've done a nice job getting him to this point."


Big lineup moves unlikely

Girardi, while saying everything is open for discussion, didn't make it sound as if there will be too many lineup changes this season. Certainly nothing drastic - such as moving Mark Teixeira from the three hole and putting Robinson Cano there.

"We scored a lot of runs last year," Girardi said. "Maybe we tweak it, maybe we don't."


Extra bases

Girardi said Francisco Cervelli will start Saturday's game and Jesus Montero will start Sunday . . . David Robertson, on the top step of the dugout watching lefthander Pedro Feliciano throw live BP, turned to infielder Brad Suttle, who also was watching. "He's just nasty," Robertson said, shaking his head admiringly.

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