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Didi returns from DL but will ease into action

MLB.com @BryanHoch

SEATTLE -- The Yankees welcomed their unofficial "captain of the infield" back to active duty on Friday evening, though with Didi Gregorius having bypassed rehab games in his return, manager Aaron Boone said he plans to proceed cautiously with the shortstop.

Gregorius came off the bench to play the final four innings of Friday's 4-0 victory over the Mariners, marking the 28-year-old's first game action since sustaining a left heel contusion on Aug. 19. Gregorius grounded out in the ninth inning, finishing 0-for-1.

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SEATTLE -- The Yankees welcomed their unofficial "captain of the infield" back to active duty on Friday evening, though with Didi Gregorius having bypassed rehab games in his return, manager Aaron Boone said he plans to proceed cautiously with the shortstop.

Gregorius came off the bench to play the final four innings of Friday's 4-0 victory over the Mariners, marking the 28-year-old's first game action since sustaining a left heel contusion on Aug. 19. Gregorius grounded out in the ninth inning, finishing 0-for-1.

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"It's been a while since I've been out there, but I felt really good going into action," Gregorius said. "I actually felt really good. Adrenaline covers everything. It was a really fun time, just to be out there for the team."

Boone said that he plans to start Gregorius at shortstop on Saturday, though he is unlikely to play the full game. Even at less than 100 percent, the Yankees are excited to have Gregorius back in the fold, given his importance to the club.

"He's a left-handed hitter, and being able to hit him in different spots throughout the middle of the order, he balances us out," Boone said. "He's so steady for us at shortstop. The intangible things he does as far as leading our infield and always has his eye in the dugout, knows where to be. He's kind of like a quarterback out there at shortstop."

Wild call
Boone said he has not decided who would pitch if the Yankees land in the Oct. 3 American League Wild Card Game. Luis Severino would have once figured to be a lock for that outing, but the right-hander's recent struggles have entered J.A. Happ, Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia into the conversation.

"I think that's decided over the final 22 games," Boone said. "I think all of you can come up with candidates. I'm sure we have three, four, five of them. I think it comes down to who is pitching well and what does the matchup look like, where are we bullpen-wise. I think these next few weeks will tell us who that guy is."

This date in Yankees history
Sept. 7, 2014: The Yankees hold "Derek Jeter Day" in front of a sold-out crowd of 48,110 at Yankee Stadium. Jeter is honored in a 45-minute pregame ceremony that includes surprise appearances by Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken Jr. Jeter goes 1-for-3 with a walk in the Yankees' 2-0 loss to the Royals.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Didi Gregorius