Russell Martin celebrates his fourth inning grand slam against the...

Russell Martin celebrates his fourth inning grand slam against the Tampa Bay Rays. (June 5, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Russell Martin said he could have played against the Indians Tuesday night rather than sit out for a third straight game.

But Joe Girardi wanted to see the Yankees catcher take some pain-free swings in the batting cage, as well as in batting practice, before inserting him back into his customary starting spot. Martin is trying to get over some stiffness in the right side of his lower back.

"I don't want to send a player out there whose swing is not what his swing is because he's having some issues," Girardi said. "I think you can get in some bad habits and you can risk further injury."

Martin said he hasn't had any tests performed and added he felt fine, but "until I take some hacks, I won't know. I don't think it will be a problem."

Still, he insists the stiffness isn't as bad as what he experienced a season ago. "I don't know how much time I missed last year, but this time, it's not as severe as it was last year," he said. "It's just something small and I'll take care if it. If I had to play today, I would play."

Gardner going to Tampa

Brett Gardner, still recovering from a strained right elbow, is expected to accompany the Yankees to Tampa next week and start taking some dry swings during the middle of the week.

Gardner had been hopeful of a possible return by the All-Star break, but Girardi shot that down. At best, Gardner might be back around the third week of July. He's already had two minor-league rehab assignments and had to be shut down both times.

Gardner was transferred to the 60-day disabled list Tuesday so the Yankees could make room for righthander Danny Farquhar on the active roster.

 

Feliciano takes mound

Pedro Feliciano (shoulder) threw 25 pitches in Tampa Tuesday during his first full-mound bullpen session this year, the first step in a potential comeback.

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