NEW YORK — The New York Yankees placed Carlos Beltran on the 15-day disabled list Friday because a strained left oblique muscle, and they pushed CC Sabathia's next start back three days so he can work on fixing some pitching problems.
The Yankees initially thought Beltran would be able to avoid a long layoff after feeling pain in his side while swinging the bat Tuesday.
"It just puts you in somewhat of a difficult position — if we were to test it and make it worse," manager Joe Girardi said before the Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Rays.
Beltran was batting .181 on May 1 but has raised his average to .260. He hit his first homer of the year May 10 and now has seven.
The Yankees already are missing starting center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been slow to heal from a knee injury that has kept him on the disabled list since May 20. Ellsbury began a rehab assignment with Class A Tampa on Monday, sat out Tuesday, played Wednesday and sat out again the next two days.
"He's working extremely hard. It's just he's just going through a spring training again," Girardi said. "You don't want to go out there if you are physically fatigued or sore so we just got to get his legs under him and once we do that we'll have a player."
Girardi says he didn't want to interrupt Sabathia's work in the bullpen. Moving him back in the rotation limits the struggling left-hander to one more start before the All-Star break.
Ivan Nova will instead start Sunday.
The 34-year-old Sabathia is having the worst season of his career after missing most of last year because of knee surgery. He is 3-8 with a 5.59 ERA, allowing 19 homers in 16 starts.
Both Girardi and Sabathia said the burly star is healthy. Sabathia refused to specify what he was working on. Girardi said one of the things the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner is tinkering with was a cut fastball.
"It's a break that I probably need, I guess," he said. "I'm going to take a step back, look at some things and try to be ready to go Wednesday."
New York recalled outfielder Ramon Flores and infielder Gregorio Petit from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned outfielder Taylor Dugas to the Triple-A team.