NEW YORK — Kevin Youkilis is happy his back injury doesn't appear serious and thinks he could return to the Yankees' lineup as soon as his stint on the 15-day disabled list is up.
The corner infielder was back at the ballpark Wednesday, one day after being told to stay home and rest following an epidural injection. He said he should be able to resume baseball activities in about a week and hopes he's ready to go when he's eligible to come off the DL on May 13.
New York manager Joe Girardi sounded more cautious.
"I hope so. But as I've said, backs are tricky and we never know how exactly they're going to react. But our hope is that that should clear it up and he'll be a player for us," Girardi said.
The 34-year-old Youkilis joined Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson on New York's star-studded disabled list Tuesday because of a lumbar spine sprain. By playing Youkilis last weekend, the Yankees lost the chance to backdate the move to April 21 and could only make it retroactive to Sunday.
General manager Brian Cashman said playing Youkilis on Saturday "was a mistake by everybody involved." Youkilis, however, thought the epidural was "inevitable."
"There's no one to blame here," he said. "I think I'm probably more to blame than others. It's my mistake. I probably should have said I wasn't 100 percent."
Despite a history of back trouble, Youkilis was signed to a $12 million, one-year contract in December to fill in at third base for Rodriguez after the three-time MVP had offseason hip surgery. Youkilis, a Gold Glove first baseman in 2007 with Boston, has also made five starts there with Teixeira sidelined.
Youkilis got off to a solid start but was injured April 20 in Toronto and missed six consecutive games with back stiffness before going 0 for 3 with a walk Saturday. He is batting .266 with two homers and seven RBIs in 17 games.
Sitting in a chair at his locker wearing khakis and a long-sleeve shirt, Youkilis said he thinks the same bulge of a disk that caused him problems last year was "basically rubbing" a nerve, leading to discomfort on his right side.
But he said the doctor was "pretty excited" and "very happy" with how the epidural was administered. Youkilis said he was told by Yankees team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad that the injury would not threaten his career or require surgery.
The three-time All-Star missed 23 days last season with a similar ailment while he was still playing for the Red Sox, but said his minor league rehab assignment lasted longer than necessary — in part because of other issues for the club.
"I was ready to go nuts at Triple-A," Youkilis said. "But there was a lot more going on in Boston at that time."
NOTES: Girardi said he thought Granderson (broken right wrist) had a couple of at-bats in extended spring training and would have had more if not for rain in Tampa, Florida "No news in a sense is good news," the manager said. ... Girardi confirmed that Teixeira (right wrist) hit off a tee and took soft toss in the batting cage. "Said he felt pretty good," Girardi said. "It's another step in the right direction." ... Rodriguez hasn't started baseball activities yet.