Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius looks for his pitch during the...

Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius looks for his pitch during the first inning against the Blue Jays in a game at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 19. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Didi Gregorius isn't expected to be activated from the disabled list when he's first eligible to come back on Thursday, but the Yankees' shortstop took some positive steps toward returning to active duty before Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the White Sox.

Gregorius took batting practice on the field and did running drills for the first time since injuring his left heel on Aug. 19 against Toronto. He also had fielding practice for the second straight day, moving side-to-side and charging in to field a few grounders.

"I wasn't running hard, you can't run hard on the first day, just kind of jog and do some figure-eights and try to backpedal and all that stuff and see how it feels," Gregorius said. "It feels better, so it's a good step for me."

Gregorius and manager Aaron Boone said no determination has been made about a possible minor-league rehab assignment; Triple-A Scranton's regular season ends on Monday.

"I think we'll evaluate where we are at the end of today and start to get a plan going forward," Boone said. "It seems like he's making positive steps each and every day, so I'm optimistic that it's not too far off. But we're also going to listen to the body."

Gary Sanchez (strained groin, July 24) currently is on a rehab assignment at Triple-A; he started behind the plate and went hitless in four at-bats on Wednesday night. Aaron Judge (fractured wrist, July 27) still hasn't resumed hitting. Boone said the All-Star outfielder had a "very light day, by design," on Wednesday.

"I know he's been making decent progress this week, but I think today is a very low-key day," Boone said. 

Extra bases

Gleyber Torres, who has shifted to shortstop in Gregorius' absence, was spiked on the left thumb applying a tag when Yolmer Sanchez was caught stealing in the seventh inning. The rookie infielder remained in the game and insisted afterward that "it's nothing important, nothing bad." . . . Alfred "Big Al" Delia, the Little League star from New Jersey who became a viral sensation for saying he hits "dingers" in an ESPN introduction video earlier this month, was on the field before the game and met with Boone, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks and several other Yankees. Hicks wore a "Big Al Hits Dingers" T-shirt during batting practice. Delia's Middletown team won the New Jersey championship but was eliminated during Mid-Atlantic Region play.

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