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Soriano, Chavez make first rehab starts

Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano pitches against the Tigers

Yankees reliever Rafael Soriano pitches against the Tigers during the eighth inning. (Mar. 31, 2011) Credit: Chris Ware

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rafael Soriano took a significant step toward returning from the disabled list last night, although he wasn’t particularly impressive in his first rehab reappearance.

The righthanded reliever started for Class-A Tampa and allowed two runs and two hits, including a solo homer, in 11 / 3 innings. He threw 21 pitches.

Eric Chavez, on the DL with a fractured left foot, started for Tampa at designated hitter and went 0-for-3 with a walk in his first game since May 5.

Soriano was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA when he went on the DL on May 17 with right elbow inflammation. Girardi gave no timetable for Soriano’s return, but hinted he would resume his duties as Mariano Rivera’s setup man, even though David Robertson has excelled in the role, with a 1.21 ERA and only two earned runs in 24 appearances since May 14.

“ has been our eighth-inning guy,” Girardi said before making the declaration slightly less than concrete.

“We have to see how he’s throwing and how he’s feeling before I can make any determination,” he said. “The big thing is we have to get him back healthy and throwing the way he’s capable. We’ll see what happens, but we have to get him back first.”

Girardi later said: “I have to do what’s best for our team. But as I said, let’s see how he’s throwing the ball, how he feels and how he bounces back and then we’ll make decisions.”

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