Although Michael Pineda on Thursday night said, "I'm coming back soon,'' the Yankees still expect the righthander to be out three to four weeks.
"I wouldn't expect it to be more than that,'' Joe Girardi said of Pineda (strained lat muscle). "My hope is it would be shorter. But I think that's pretty fair, three, four weeks. The problem is they don't pick up a ball for a while. That's the problem you run into.''
Pineda, who still is serving a 10-day suspension for using pine tar against the Red Sox, will be placed on the Pineda didn't throw a pitch in the majors in 2012 or 2013 after shoulder surgery. He was 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA in three games before being ejected in the second inning April 23 at Fenway Park.
Pineda said he felt tightness in his upper back during a bullpen session on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla. An MRI confirmed the injury.
"It's not what you want,'' Girardi said. "If there's a positive side, it has nothing to do with the surgery he had. It's really upper lat/lower shoulder. That will heal. It's just going to take some time.''
Pineda will be replaced by David Phelps, who threw an 80-pitch simulated game Wednesday. Vidal Nuño, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia will start against the Rays in the series that begins Friday night.
Extra basesJacoby Ellsbury returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday night's game with a sore left hand and made his presence felt in the first inning, saving a run with a lunging catch moments before hitting a leadoff home run. Ellsbury would not say how the injury occurred despite repeated inquiries . . . Brendan Ryan (back) will begin a rehab assignment Friday with Double-A Trenton. He could be activated Monday when the Yankees are allowed to replace Pineda on the roster (they are carrying 24 men during the suspension . . . In a pregame ceremony, the Yankees honored News 12 Long Island broadcaster Bob Wolff for having the Guinness Book of World Records-sanctioned longest career in broadcasting: 73 years.