Yankees first baseman Nick Johnson hits a two run double...

Yankees first baseman Nick Johnson hits a two run double in the bottom of the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox. Credit: Christopher Pasatieri

SEATTLE - Before last Friday's game against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium, general manager Brian Cashman expressed optimism regarding Nick Johnson, who was inside hitting off a batting tee. "We're hopeful sometime toward the end of July, we'll have a player,'' Cashman said.

That now appears unlikely, and it increasingly looks as if Johnson, who had surgery on his right wrist in May, might not return at all this season.

Before last night's game, Joe Girardi said Johnson suffered "a setback" while rehabbing in Tampa. He was headed back to New York to see team physician Christopher Ahmad.

"What it means, how long he rests, I don't know," Girardi said. "He felt some pain while he was swinging."

Johnson hasn't played since May 7. "I had no expectation," Girardi said. "I know it's a very difficult thing to come back from. It seems like guys sometimes, it takes that offseason to get that full strength. I really had no expectations of when we'd get him back."


Mitre progressing

RHP Sergio Mitre (oblique) made his first rehab appearance Tuesday, throwing two scoreless innings and striking out five of the six batters he faced. Girardi didn't rule out the pitcher's return after the All-Star break. "That's something we're discussing," he said. "He's going to make another turn here pretty soon, then we're going to discuss . . . We think he needs one more, then he's ready to go."

With Alfredo Aceves showing no signs of a return anytime soon, Girardi said Mitre could fill the consistent two-inning-reliever role the Yankees have been missing in Aceves' absence, though he didn't commit to it. "We know that he can give us distance," he said. "But he could be a one-inning guy for us. The thing is you just don't know how he'll bounce back from that the next day."

CC on LeBron

Former Cleveland pitcher CC Sabathia on his friend LeBron James' decision to join the Heat: "I'm happy for him. He made a decision and it had a lot to do with trying to win a championship. You can't fault him for that. I do feel bad for the city of Cleveland, though. He meant a lot to that city and the people there.''

More Yankees headlines