NYY@TOR: Youkilis shows off quick reflexes with grab

NEW YORK -- An MRI exam taken on Kevin Youkilis' stiff lower back came back negative, according to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, but the infielder is scheduled to receive an epidural injection on Tuesday and could be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Girardi said that the team would discuss the next course of action with Youkilis over the several hours following Monday's 9-1 Yankees loss to the Astros.

"There's no changes in his back from recent MRIs," Girardi said. "It's just, he's having a problem. I don't know if he's in a position to play in two days."

Youkilis has missed eight of the Yankees' last nine games. He returned to action against the Blue Jays on Saturday but felt more discomfort in his back after waking up on Sunday.

"It was just one of those things waking up, and I didn't feel right," Youkilis said before Monday's game. "Sometimes, after your adrenaline's gone, things occur to you. We've just got to find out what's going on."

Youkilis has dealt with back issues in the past. He missed 14 games with back stiffness in 2011 and another 22 games last season with back tightness while with the Red Sox.

"You've got to suck it up sometimes -- you've got play through things," Youkilis said. "I thought I could play through it. I just didn't feel right after [Saturday], so I didn't play the next day."

Because Youkilis played on Saturday, the Yankees lost the ability to backdate his injury to the club's first series with Toronto, during which he initially felt the discomfort and missed action. Girardi said he did not have second thoughts about playing Youkilis.

"None whatsoever," Girardi said. "The player told us he was ready to go, and we put him in."

Yankees applaud NBA's Collins for courage

HOU@NYY: Yanks' booth on Jason Collins' announcement

NEW YORK -- The three television screens in the Yankees' clubhouse were tuned to coverage of Monday's top sports story, as NBA player Jason Collins became the first active athlete in the four major American sports to come out as gay.

Collins' announcement drew many supportive and encouraging responses from the sports world, and at Yankee Stadium, several members of the Yankees' roster said that they believe Major League Baseball would also be ready to accept an openly gay player.

"I believe as men and women, we're called to love others [regardless of] their race, their religion, their thought process, whatever they do," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're not called to judge. I think part of judging people is probably what gets us in a lot of trouble in the world.

"As far as me personally, he's a player -- he's a man. My job is to be his friend and love him. If I was his manager, it's to get the most out of him. If I was a player, I always felt it was as a player to be the best teammate that I could be. That's the bottom line."

Collins, a veteran center who has been in the NBA since 2001 and most recently played for the Washington Wizards, revealed his sexuality in a column published on Monday by Sports Illustrated.

"Good for him -- he can be honest and not have to live a lie," Yankees ace CC Sabathia said. "It's tough for somebody to come out and do that, be the first guy. I'm sure it took him a while to come out with it and be good with it."

"It's his life, and if he felt that was the best thing to do in his life, that's a good thing," Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis added. "If he feels at ease in life, that's a good thing for him."

Girardi said that he believes MLB "will handle it well" if and when a player comes out. It is also possible, as outfielder Vernon Wells suggested, that other active athletes have come out but did not announce their decision to the media.

"Maybe it did [happen]; maybe you guys didn't hear about it, not publicly," Wells said. "If someone comes out, they come out and it takes a strong person to do it. He's going to have to deal with a bunch of different things from a media standpoint, whatever it may be. If it happens, it happens."

Several Yankees said that they did not believe having a gay teammate would create an issue in the clubhouse.

"It wouldn't be a big deal for me," Youkilis said. "Like I've said, everyone's different ethnic groups, religions all come into one room. We're all one team and we're trying to win. I'm here to win and that's all I care about."

Sabathia also said that it may be easier for a future player to be comfortable announcing his sexuality because of Collins' statement.

"I think so, now that he's already been the first current player," Sabathia said. "I think it'll be a little easier for somebody else."

Girardi not restricting Romine behind plate

Top Prospects: Austin Romine, C, Yankees

NEW YORK -- As a young catcher making his first start of the year at the big league level, Austin Romine said that drawing an Andy Pettitte outing should help ease his transition back into pinstripes.

"He knows what he's doing; he knows how to call his own game," Romine said. "I still take a lot of pride in knowing how to pitch to guys and going over the reports of a team. I want to be ready for any situation that's thrown at me."

Romine got his first nod of the year behind the plate on Monday against the Astros, putting down the signs for Pettitte. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he would "absolutely not" call pitches for Romine, preferring that he and Pettitte work together.

"Andy is pretty good about taking other players under his wing and letting them know what he wants to do," Girardi said. "He's not going to get flustered out there if they don't get in a rhythm right away. I think for that, it works pretty well."

Romine was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after catcher Francisco Cervelli suffered a fractured right hand on Friday. In 14 games at Triple-A, Romine was batting .333 with a homer and four RBIs.

Though he worked with most of the Yankees' pitchers during Spring Training, Romine spent the last two days in the bullpen to get further reacclimated and said that he believes he has developed since making his big league debut in September 2011.

"I think I'm a little more calm out there," Romine said. "I know what to expect. I think that's going to allow me to slow the game down a little bit and actually think a little bit more. I'm excited."

Healing Cervelli to adjust position of bare hand

TOR@NYY: Cervelli hit in hand by foul tip, exits game

NEW YORK -- Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli said that after sustaining a fractured right hand on a foul tip last week, he will adjust where he keeps his throwing hand behind the plate without runners on base.

"I'm going to have the time to practice because these kind of things cannot happen anymore," Cervelli said on Monday. "I'm going try to catch with my hand [behind] my back. It's been all my career like that, but I don't need another fracture."

Cervelli was clipped by a tip off the bat of the Blue Jays' Rajai Davis in the first inning of Friday's game and said he knew immediately that the hand was broken.

"The funny thing is, that at-bat -- because I know Davis hits a lot of foul balls -- I was thinking, 'I've got to hide my hand a little bit,'" Cervelli said. "And on that pitch, boom, got it."

The Yankees have estimated that Cervelli will need a minimum of six weeks to recover.

"I think today it's five weeks and five days," Cervelli said. "I'm counting. Tomorrow is four days. I heal very fast. I've just got to stay positive."

Cervelli said that he had a plate inserted into his right hand, which now accompanies a couple of screws that Dr. Melvin Rosenwasser put in Cervelli's right forearm during a 2008 procedure.

"So I'm a robot now," Cervelli said.