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Teixeira takes step toward return to action

NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira took swings in an indoor batting cage and fielded ground balls at first base on Sunday, both for the first time since an MRI revealed a mild strain in his lower left lat.

The injury has kept Teixeira out of the lineup since Monday, but if he can clear this latest activity without pain, he should avoid the disabled list. The next step for the slugger -- who still led the Yankees with 17 home runs and 48 RBIs entering Sunday's finale vs. the Blue Jays -- would be to take batting practice on the field.

"We'll reevaluate where he is tomorrow and how he feels after today," manager Joe Girardi said. "Hopefully, he's a player for us pretty soon here."

Kelly Johnson would be the primary backup first baseman, but he was placed on the disabled list on Wednesday with a strained left groin. Brian McCann has filled the role in the duo's absence, despite not having made a start there before this season.

And with Teixeira on the bench but unavailable, the Yankees have essentially been playing with a 24-man roster since Monday. They are also carrying 13 pitchers, so Girardi has been operating with two bench players for much of the past week.

"We've played short, and we've done it a number of times during the course of this season and last season," Girardi said.

Jamal Collier is an associate reporter for
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