NEW YORK -- Chris Stewart still isn't being labeled as CC Sabathia's personal catcher, at least not by Yankees manager Joe Girardi. Regardless, the pair figures to remain together as long as the victories keep coming.
Girardi again refused to call Stewart the assigned backstop for Sabathia on Thursday, even as the battery was plugged together for a fifth straight start.
Sabathia entered Thursday having won four straight outings with Stewart, posting a 3.16 ERA and holding opponents to a .190 batting average over the stretch. Sabathia said that he continues to click with Stewart, having shaken off Stewart just once in the last three outings.
"He's caught him three or four starts, but I'm not saying it's going to be that way the whole year," Girardi said. "Everyone is going to want to make something of it right now, but it's not going to be that way the whole year."
Girardi said that he has been choosing to give Russell Martin time off on days when Stewart could catch against a left-handed starter. Girardi said that if the Yankees were in the playoffs, he would have Martin -- and not Stewart -- catching Sabathia.
"Russell is our No. 1 catcher," Girardi said, adding, "I believe Russell is going to do a good job with him as well."
After setback, Gardner to miss weeks more
NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after Thursday's 5-3 win over the Rays that left fielder Brett Gardner experienced a setback in his rehabilitation from a right elbow injury and will miss at least 15-25 more days of game action.
Gardner, who was likely to rejoin the club for its series finale against Tampa Bay, underwent another MRI exam that revealed a further strain in the muscle in his elbow, which has sidelined him since April 18.
Girardi said that Gardner will not swing a bat for at least 10 days, and the club will re-evaluate his status at that point.
"The muscle that he strained, that healed," Girardi said. "He re-strained it, is basically what it is. We are going to go without Gardy for a while here. It's very unfortunate."
Gardner was playing for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday night and tripled to lead off the first inning, scored a run and walked twice, but he felt some lingering issues after the game.
Girardi seemed encouraged by the fact that this was not the bone bruise that initially bothered Gardner, and the skipper does not expect it to be a long-term concern.
"The concern is we're not going to have him for a while," Girardi said. "As far as, for me, this being a real long-term thing, I don't think this is, like, a three-month thing. But, unfortunately, I think we're going to be without him for another 15-25 days. And that's unfortunate."
The Yankees have been without Gardner since he was placed on the disabled list on April 19 after apparently injuring himself while making a diving catch in a game against the Twins.
Gardner was batting .321 with five runs scored, three RBIs and two stolen bases in nine games for New York. The Yankees have relied on Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones and Eduardo Nunez in his absence.
"We miss him," Girardi said of Gardner. "There's no doubt about it. The way he was swinging the bat, his defense, the way he puts pressure on defense. We miss his presence in left field. We've got to find a way to get it done without him."
Preparing for debut, Pettitte sticks to routine
NEW YORK -- Andy Pettitte can't work out with the Yankees until he is officially added to the roster in anticipation of his season debut on Sunday against the Mariners, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been popping up in the Bronx.
Pettitte spoke to reporters from his Westchester, N.Y., home on Thursday and said that he has commuted to Yankee Stadium this week to throw morning bullpen sessions in front of pitching coach Larry Rothschild, getting set for his starting assignment as normally as possible.
"It's been great -- I've been able to come into the stadium," Pettitte said. "I've thrown a couple of bullpens, getting here around 11:30 [a.m.] and just do my work. ... My preparation for this game has been exactly like it normally would have been."
Pettitte has also been exercising with strength coach Dana Cavalea in White Plains, N.Y., but he can't wait to slip the pinstripes back on and officially complete his return to the big leagues. Pettitte expects to pick up right where he left off in 2010.
"Knowing how I feel in my bullpens and stuff like that now, I just really believe I'm going to be able to get back to where I was," Pettitte said. "I'm going to be very disappointed if I don't, so I'm definitely expecting that out of myself."
Pettitte said that he feels like his strength has been built up after his six Minor League starts and that he is confident he will be able to get big league hitters out. He has been keeping up with the Yankees closely since coming out of retirement on March 16; Pettitte said his Tampa, Fla., hotel room was wired to receive the YES Network on television.
"I have not missed any games, unless I was pitching on a rehab assignment," Pettitte said. "I followed it extremely closely. Obviously for me, I wanted to see the guys in the rotation throw and just continue to be able to talk with them and stay in contact with them."
Pettitte said that his wife and family are flying to New York for the Mother's Day start, with the exception of Pettitte's son Josh, whose high school baseball team is in the playoffs back home in Texas.
"No matter how many games you pitch -- World Series games or playoff games -- [there is] just a little bit of anxiety about getting out there and just starting to do this again," Pettitte said. "There's definitely a little bit of that, but I'm really excited to do it again."
Chavez's return hinges on MLB's approval
NEW YORK -- Yankees third baseman Eric Chavez took another ImPACT test on Thursday and hopes to soon be cleared by Major League Baseball to come off the seven-day concussion disabled list.
Chavez had been expected to be activated on Thursday, the first day he would have been eligible, but MLB had concerns about one portion of his test. Chavez said that he felt much more confident in his results on the second try.
"We're just waiting for him to be cleared by Major League Baseball," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He has not been cleared yet; I don't know how long it takes. As soon as he's cleared, we'll probably put him in there."
Chavez suffered a concussion and whiplash while diving for a J.J. Hardy double down the third-base line on May 2 against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium. Chavez did not travel with the club to Kansas City, instead remaining in New York to rest as the club purchased the contract of infielder Jayson Nix from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Yankees will hold a birthday commemoration for Yogi Berra on Saturday prior to the 4:05 p.m. ET game against the Mariners. It will be the Hall of Famer's 87th birthday. Fans are encouraged to arrive by 3:40 p.m. for the festivities, and all guests in attendance will receive a commemmorative Berra baseball card presented by Yankees-Steiner.
Curtis Granderson had his streak of reaching base in 28 consecutive games snapped on Wednesday against the Rays. It was the longest streak by a Yankee since Mark Teixeira reached base in 42 straight games from June 6-July 26, 2010.
On this date in 1936, Joe DiMaggio hit his first Major League home run off George Turbeville in the Yankees' 7-2 victory over the Athletics. DiMaggio would hit 29 homers in the '36 season and retired with 361 in a 13-year career.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.