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Didi Gregorius projected to return to Yankees next month

UPDATED: Sat., May 18, 2019, 11:02 a.m.

In this Oct. 7, 2018 photo, New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius answers questions during a baseball news conference in New York. Gregorius is projected to return to the New York Yankees next month, a faster recovery from Tommy John surgery than originally expected. (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press)
In this Oct. 7, 2018 photo, New York Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius answers questions during a baseball news conference in New York. Gregorius is projected to return to the New York Yankees next month, a faster recovery from Tommy John surgery than originally expected. (Julie Jacobson / Associated Press)
By Ronald Blum Associated Press

NEW YORK – Didi Gregorius is projected to return to the New York Yankees next month, a faster recovery from Tommy John surgery than expected.

Gregorius is scheduled to play shortstop on Monday at extended spring training in Tampa, Florida, his first game action since surgery on Oct. 17 to replace a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“It’s a good step. We’re getting there. Everything feels really good,” Gregorius said Saturday after eight plate appearances during a simulated game in Tampa. “You’ve got to trust the whole thing, even though I’m impatient because I want to work. But it is what it is. Got to go with what they’re saying and go with their schedule.”

Manager Aaron Boone does not expect Gregorius will need the equivalent of a full spring training, which is about six weeks.

“I think it will be shorter,” Boone said Saturday. “He’s been doing so much already as far as getting live ABs (at-bats), doing all this work. So he’s a little further down the road than he would be at the start of spring training.”

Gregorius hit .268 with a career-high 27 homers and 86 RBIs last season. He injured the elbow while making a throw from left field after a ball bounced off Fenway Park’s Green Monster during Game 2 of the AL Division Series at Boston last Oct. 6. When the Yankees revealed the injury six days later, general manager Brian Cashman would specify only “sometime next summer” for Gregorius’ return.

Gregorius’ timetable will be easier to project once he starts a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment, which has a 20-day maximum. New York’s plan for him indicates a June return.

“If everything goes well, I think that’s fair,” Boone said.

In other Yankees injury news, left-hander James Paxton is scheduled to throw a third bullpen session Sunday and could be activated during next week’s trip to Baltimore and Kansas City. Paxton has not pitched since May 3 because of left knee inflammation that required a cortisone injection the following day. He also threw bullpens on May 15 and Friday,

Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is to start an injury rehab assignment for Class A Tampa on Monday night. He has not played since March 31 because of a strained left biceps and then an injured left shoulder.

Stanton had seven plate appearances Saturday. Troy Tulowitzki, sidelined since April 3 by a strained left calf, took grounders at shortstop and third base.

AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.

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