NEW YORK -- A.J. Cole's most recent appearances in a Yankees uniform had a 22-day gap between them that prompted some to wonder if his name had been lost on manager Aaron Boone's lineup card. He is about to experience another delay before returning to the mound.
The Yanks placed Cole on the 10-day disabled list on Thursday with a left neck strain that Boone said the right-hander sustained while playing catch prior to Wednesday's 7-5 walk-off victory over the Mariners.
In a corresponding move, New York returned right-hander Luis Cessa from his Minor League rehabilitation assignment and reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list. Cessa had been scheduled to pitch on Thursday for Double-A Trenton against Binghamton.
"We don't think it's anything serious; probably two, three, four days maybe, but just felt like we needed the coverage," Boone said. "Cessa is in the middle of being stretched out to get back to starting. He was scheduled to go today, so we just felt like -- not being certain of how long Cole might be -- we just felt like we needed the length just in case we got in a situation."
Cole, 26, has pitched well in limited opportunities since his contract was purchased from the Nationals in late April, going 1-0 with an 0.69 ERA in seven appearances. In 13 innings as a Yankee, Cole has permitted one run and six hits, walking six and striking out 15.
Cole hurled two scoreless innings in Tuesday's 7-2 win over Seattle, marking his first appearance since May 28 against the Astros.
Moving on up
Jonathan Holder has gone from a roster hopeful in the spring to earning a place as one of Boone's more trusted relievers in high-leverage spots. The right-hander was an unsung hero in Wednesday's victory after firing 2 1/3 innings of scoreless, hitless ball to keep the game close for Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton's home runs.
"He's been terrific," Boone said. "He's earned everything he's gotten this year. … He just competes really well and has the ability to pound the strike zone. Like so many guys on our team that maybe you didn't account for going in, he's been a huge factor in us winning ballgames this year."
Holder, 25, has compiled a 2.00 ERA in 24 appearances, ringing up 27 strikeouts in 27 innings while permitting four walks and 16 hits. He was 1-1 with a 3.89 ERA in 37 big league appearances last year.
"I feel like everybody's job is to hand it to the next guy and keep the score the same," Holder said. "So no matter what inning it's in, I'm just trying to hand it off to the next guy and let our offense work."
Brett Gardner (right knee inflammation) said that he was "encouraged" by how he felt on Thursday, one day after testing his knee with a full workout on the diamond at Yankee Stadium. Gardner believes that he could be in the lineup on Friday, when the Yankees open a three-game weekend series against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
"I think we're good to go," Boone said. "One of the things we'll talk about is whether he plays all three games down there or not. I felt like he was good enough to play [Wednesday]. … He thought he would be more sore than he actually is, so I think that's an encouraging sign."
Masahiro Tanaka (strains of both hamstrings) is progressing, according to Boone, who said that the right-hander will travel with the club on its upcoming road trip. Tanaka has been scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Sunday, his first time on a mound since he sustained the injury running the bases on June 8 against the Mets.
"Masa's doing well," Boone said. "It's my understanding he's feeling really good. As far as the hamstrings go, they're progressing as we hoped."
This date in Yankees history
On June 21, 1984, the Yankees held "Elston Howard Day," honoring the former catcher with a Monument Park plaque. The '63 American League Most Valuable Player Award winner, Howard was a nine-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner over his 13 seasons with the Bombers from '55-67.