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Granderson plays five innings in first rehab game

Teammates jokingly call slugger 'magnet' after deflection on double-play ball

TAMPA -- It took all of three innings Thursday night for another ball to hit Curtis Granderson. Fortunately for Granderson, he was able to appreciate the irony this time.

The Yankees outfielder began the season on the disabled list with a broken right hand after being hit by a pitch in Spring Training. He returned in mid-May to play eight games for the Yankees then got hit by another pitch on May 24, fracturing his left pinkie. So it was only fitting that he was hit in the arm again during his first Minor League rehabilitation game since then, this time by a deflected double-play relay throw while sliding into second base.

Granderson and infielder Jayson Nix each went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored for Class A Advanced Tampa on Thursday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field, where they'll remain through the weekend as they work their way back to the Bronx.

Granderson said his Tampa Yankees teammates told him, "'You've got a magnet on you right now with the ball.'" But the 32-year-old outfielder didn't even suffer a bruise and went on to play five innings in left field. Nix, working his way back from a right hamstring strain, played five innings at third base and said he's scheduled to stay there for seven innings Friday night.

Granderson considered his first game in more than two months to be a step in the right direction. He said his legs felt good while chasing after two doubles hit to the wall, and he started to see pitches better in each of his three plate appearances. His timing at the plate is still a work in progress, but that was to be expected after such a long recovery.

He expects to be back in left for at least five innings Friday, and though he doesn't know exactly when he's set to rejoin the Yankees, he'd prefer it to be "sooner than later."

Granderson admitted he didn't feel completely comfortable at the plate Thursday, though part of that might have had to do with the adjustment to playing under the lights again.

"The first at-bat, the pitcher looked really close to me. Something just didn't seem right. It could've been the night game. It could've been the lights. It could've been the stands, the fans, whatever the case it might have been," Granderson said. "Something was just a little different.

"One thing that both Nixy and I were talking about -- him only for two weeks, but myself for two months -- everything's been at 10 in the morning when the sun's been out. ... In Spring Training, I remember a lot of guys saying stuff that your first night game is always interesting. Sure enough, tonight was one of those. It was a good one, so tomorrow night should be hopefully a little bit better."

While Thursday was Granderson's first game in more than two months, it was the second game of Nix's rehab assignment after playing Wednesday afternoon for the Gulf Coast League Yankees. Nix said he is "a few more days" from returning to the Majors, as he'll likely be re-evaluated after Sunday's game if all goes well.

Nix said his hamstring felt "great" Thursday, with "no pain, no hesitations, being able to run hard [and] not feel anything.

"It's feeling good the last couple weeks," Nix added. "I haven't had any problems, and I've been running hard and it feels good. It feels strong."

Adam Berry is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry.

New York Yankees, Curtis Granderson, Jayson Nix