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Plenty of big-name Yankees take the field -- in Tampa

Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson warms up for

Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson warms up for his first day of practice. (Feb. 18, 2013) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Even as the game-ready Yankees took batting practice in their Bronx ballpark before Monday's season opener, one of the glitziest extended spring trainings in team lore continued at the club's minor-league complex.

On one field, Curtis Granderson shagged fly balls in shallow center and tossed them back -- underhanded -- toward second base. On another, Phil Hughes sent sequences of high-velocity fastballs past Class A hitters. In an outfield about 50 yards away, Derek Jeter did some long-tossing in an eight-minute cameo.

Meanwhile, roughly 15 autograph-seekers waited more than two hours on a sidewalk just outside the complex, getting little more than a wave as each player left the parking lot. Granderson, whose fractured right forearm remained in a cast, was the only one to speak.

"Gettin' better," he said. "Going to get my X-ray now."

The surreal Opening Day scene that played out on a bright, warm morning could repeat itself as Granderson, Jeter (ankle) and Hughes (upper back) try to work their way off the club's congested disabled list.

Of the three, Hughes, expected to pitch Saturday for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, appears closest to returning. He worked seven innings against Yankees minor-leaguers yesterday.

When the Yankees left camp, it seemed likely that Hughes would make at least two more starts in the minor leagues before rejoining the team. After Monday's Opening Day loss to the Red Sox, however, manager Joe Girardi didn't rule out the possibility that Hughes will start Saturday's game in Detroit instead of David Phelps, who pitched 11/3 innings Monday and otherwise would be the starter against the Tigers.

The other option would be Hughes starting for Triple-A Scranton in its home game Saturday.

Jeter, who missed Opening Day for the first time in 12 years, threw with other players in the outfield for eight minutes, then went back inside the complex, where he stayed for nearly two hours before leaving.

With Erik Boland

New York Sports