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When Jacoby Ellsbury returns, Brett Gardner will be happy to bat second

New York Yankees centerfielder Brett Gardner hits an

New York Yankees centerfielder Brett Gardner hits an RBI single against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

ANAHEIM, Calif. - When Jacoby Ellsbury returns from the disabled list, which could occur as soon as Friday night, don't expect Brett Gardner to stay in the leadoff spot, where he has thrived in recent weeks.

"[When] we've had Jacoby as our leadoff hitter and Gardy at two, Jacoby did a heck of a job hitting No. 1 and Gardy did a heck of a job hitting No. 2," Joe Girardi said before Gardner went 3-for-5 in Monday night's 4-1 loss to the Angels. "So I'd probably lean toward leaving it the same."

There certainly are reasons to do so. As good as Gardner has been since Ellsbury has been out -- a .308/.379/.545 slash line in 35 games entering Monday night -- Ellsbury, who went 0-for-3 for Class A Tampa in his first rehab game Monday night, was leading the club in average (.324) and on-base percentage (.412).

Gardner, the Yankees' hottest hitter of late, has no issues with dropping back to second despite hitting .500 (25-for-50) with four homers and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games.

"I'd like to have him back and hitting in front of me; [that] would be ideal," Gardner said. "So I enjoyed leading off but I enjoy hitting second between him and Alex [Rodriguez]. That's a pretty good spot to be. I'm excited to get him back."

Miller getting closer?

Andrew Miller (flexor strain) is expected to throw off a mound at some point in Anaheim and Girardi didn't rule out the possibility that he will make it back before the All-Star break.

"The one thing I've said all along is you don't have to have him go four, five, six, seven innings [during rehab like a starter],'' Girardi said. "We're looking at a guy that has to have the ability to throw 25 pitches, so I think it's a possibility [before the break], yeah."

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