Yanks' Teixeira gets 3rd injection in wrist; Sabathia plays catch for 1st time since surgery

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NEW YORK — Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira had a third cortisone shot in his surgically repaired right wrist, and left-hander CC Sabathia played catch at the ballpark for the first time since season-ending knee surgery July 23.

Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka said he felt normal soreness Monday, a day after his first start since July 8. And Yankees manager Joe Girardi said right-hander Ivan Nova is on track for a May return after elbow ligament-replacement surgery July 29.

New York is likely to miss consecutive postseasons for the first time since 1992 and '93. Projecting the final week of the season, the Yankees' original rotation will combine to start only 80 of 162 games: Sabathia (eight), Hiroki Kuroda (32), Nova (four), Tanaka (21) and Michael Pineda (15).

Teixeira has played 119 games this season after surgery July 2 last year to repair the tendon sheath, an injury that limited him to 15 games in 2013. He is hitting .216 with 21 homers and 58 RBIs, contributing to a sputtering offense that began Monday tied for 23rd in runs.

While the earlier cortisone shots this year were inside the tendon sheath, Sunday's was on the outside. Teixeira hopes to return to the lineup Tuesday.

"All the structure still looks really good. It's just inflammation," he said.

Still, the 34-year-old may never again play virtually every game in a season.

And with 39-year-old Alex Rodriguez coming off 2013 hip surgery that held him to 15 games and a season-long suspension this year stemming from Major League Baseball's Biogenesis drug probe, the Yankees may have two corner infielders needing a substantial backup player.

Tanaka allowed one run and five hits in 5 1-3 innings Sunday, throwing 70 pitches in beating Toronto to improve to 13-4 in his first big league season.

"He was all smiles today, which was good, just doing his normal routine that he would do after any other start," Girardi said.

Tanaka was diagnosed in July with a partial tear of his ulnar collateral ligament and hopes to avoid Tommy John surgery. New York plans to start him Saturday at Fenway Park and allow him to throw up to 85 pitches.

"If I can come out from that strong, then obviously that's a positive," Tanaka said through a translator. "I should be able to have a good offseason of training on what I want to do."

Sabathia, 34, was just 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA in his second straight season of struggles. His average fastball velocity has dropped from 94.1 mph in 2009 to 91.3 in 2013 to 89.6 this year, according to fangraphs.com.

He said he went to California last month for a second stem-cell injection in the knee and feels pain free. He hopes to throw a bullpen session next month, then start an offseason routine and report in January to the Yankees' minor league complex in Tampa, Florida.

"I've kind of been throwing the football a little bit and throwing at home," he said. "It feels good to be able to come out here and not have to hide and throw."

Girardi was encouraged by the progress of three-fifths of his projected rotation for most of next year.

"I think they play a significant role. And I think you can add another guy in there: Nova's rehab has went extremely well," Girardi said. "He's had zero setbacks and has progressed very, very well."

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