TAMPA, Fla. -- It was another day of positive outings for Mariano Rivera and CC Sabathia, as the Yankees' closer and ace each completed their morning work at George M. Steinbrenner Field with no issues.
Rivera threw 32 pitches in a live batting-practice session, and Sabathia threw BP to hitters for the first time this spring as the rehabbing hurlers continue to hit their checkpoints in preparation for Opening Day.
"The big thing is going to be game situations. That's it," said Rivera, who suffered a season-ending knee injury last May. "I don't think about it at all. I'm running normal like nothing ever happened."
Sabathia said that his left elbow continues to feel normal after he had surgery in October to remove a bone spur, and he has progressed to throwing all of his pitches off the mound. He said his slider could still use some tweaking.
"It's not as sharp as I want it to be, but I've still got a little bit of time," Sabathia said. "I feel pretty good for this time."
Damon says he's interested in returning to Yanks
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Johnny Damon wants the Yankees to know that if they're willing to look at another option for their vacancy in left field, he's ready to pick up the phone and head to Spring Training.
Damon told ESPN Radio's Michael Kay on Monday that he is available to try the pinstripes back on in the wake of Curtis Granderson's right forearm fracture, which is expected to keep Granderson out of action until May.
"You guys know that I would have tons of interest to go to New York," Damon told ESPN 98.7 FM. "I just don't think they would be interested. I'm not exactly sure what happened over the years or something, but they've had plenty of opportunities, and I kept raising my hand wanting to go back. Hopefully this will be a perfect fit; it always had been. Have me for six weeks and send me off my merry way, that's fine."
Asked about the possibility of bringing Damon to camp, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said, "We will focus on what we have at this time."
Damon, 39, said that he would be willing to play for the league minimum and that he would need about three to four weeks to be Major League-ready.
"Money is not an issue," Damon said. "I've made plenty and I understand that I don't have a job right now. I'll go in and I just want to play. You can give me the minimum. That's all I care about, that chance to be in the big leagues. Shoot, the New York Yankees, I loved my time there and I know a bunch of the players loved my time there. It's just a matter of if they want me."
Damon played with the Yankees from 2006-09 before moving on to the Tigers, Rays and Indians. The owner of 2,769 big league hits, Damon batted .222 with four homers and 19 RBIs in 64 games for Cleveland last season.
"I just know the last time I played for them, we won the World Series, so I would think everyone would be happy," Damon said. "But I guess with the lack of negotiations when I was a free agent -- I don't really know what happened. I don't really know why I wasn't back there."
Gardner goes all out in solid day with bat
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Brett Gardner dove into first base to beat out an infield hit in Monday's game against the Orioles, and you could excuse the Yankees' bench for being uncomfortable at the sight.
Fortunately for the Yankees, Gardner bounced back up uninjured, but Gardner said that he heard from "a lot of people" about the dive into first base, which came less than 24 hours after the Yankees lost Curtis Granderson from their starting outfield.
"It's funny because I didn't get hurt," Gardner said. "You know, I've done it countless times. Let's get serious, I broke my thumb sliding feet first three or four years ago. It's a silly game. It's definitely not something I should have done. I'll work on not doing it anymore."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he was "not crazy" about Gardner's slide and planned to speak to him about it.
"The hard thing is, it's instinctual," Girardi said. "But no matter how many times you tell a guy, I mean, how many times do you think I told Bernie [Williams]? When they're hustling and playing hard, it happens."
Gardner did show a valuable part of his game in a third inning at-bat, dropping a beautiful bunt single down the third-base line against Baltimore pitcher Tommy Hunter. It was the second of Gardner's three hits on the day.
"I feel really good with it, and a situation where [the third baseman is] playing me back, it wouldn't have mattered if he was playing in, probably," Gardner said. "I'm just trying to stay in there, take my time, make a good bunt. It's something I plan on doing a lot of."
• The Yankees have announced their next round of starting pitchers for Grapefruit League games. Right-hander Jose Ramirez draws the Phillies on Tuesday and left-hander Nik Turley gets the nod against the Orioles on Wednesday. With a split-squad on Thursday, right-hander David Phelps will see the Blue Jays in Tampa and right-hander Brett Marshall gets the Astros in Kissimmee.
• Girardi said that it is "fair to assume" that outfield prospects Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott will not be considered to open the season in New York. Girardi did say Granderson's injury should create more spring playing time for the duo, however.
• Yankees outfielder Melky Mesa said that even after Granderson's injury, he still plans to leave camp to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. Girardi said that he had no issue with Mesa's decision, especially because Yankees bench coach Tony Pena is managing the Dominican squad.