ST. PETERSBURG -- Kevin Youkilis has not felt any discomfort in his back and believes that he may be close to starting a Minor League rehab assignment.
Youkilis, who has been on the disabled list retroactive to April 28 with a lumbar sprain, felt good playing three innings in an extended spring training game on Saturday. He has also been itching to escape the world of chain-link baseball.
"It's definitely been frustrating," Youkilis said. "You want to play, you want to do stuff. I don't want to be in Tampa playing in extended spring training games. Hopefully, I can get out there as soon as possible, but it's not in my control right now. I've just got to show up and do my job every day, and once that's all done, they'll call me up."
Mark Teixeira is slated to play in Minor League games for Double-A Trenton on Wednesday and Thursday, and Youkilis said that if the decision were up to him, he'd accompany Teixeira -- a move that the Yankees may not be ready to make just yet.
"I hope, I wish," Youkilis said. "But they make the call on that stuff. I'll push for it and see what happens. Hopefully, I'll be in games and not these extended spring training games."
Youkilis said that it has been fun to watch the Yankees' winning play from afar and hopes to add to the success when he returns.
"I just wish there were more stories from people who said we were going to finish last," he quipped. "We've got great pitching, that's the key, and timely hitting. The good about it is what you see out here. It's not all about winning 15-2.
"That always looks cool, and trust me, we all want to have those 15-2 games where everyone gets two hits and all that, but the timely hitting and the one-run ballgames -- when you win those the way Baltimore did last year, that's when you win and go on. For us that's the key to a winning season."
Subway Series at Citi to have special meaning for Mo
ST. PETERSBURG -- A few of Mariano Rivera's most memorable moments have come at the expense of the Mets, so it will be special for the retiring all-time saves leader when he is honored in Queens during the upcoming Subway Series.
Rivera threw the cutter that Mike Piazza lifted to center fielder Bernie Williams to mark the final out of the 2000 World Series at Shea Stadium, but his 500th career save came in a 2009 game played just a few hundred feet away at Citi Field, the site of Rivera's only career RBI.
The Mets' planned ceremony should be similar to the one that they staged last season to honor retiring Braves rival Chipper Jones. Rivera continues to be uncomfortable with the attention being paid to his final season, but he does appreciate the gestures.
"I didn't ask for it. All I wanted to do was make sure that I said, 'Thanks,'" Rivera said. "They are good people there that I have a lot of sympathy with. I just make sure that every time I go there I see my old guys there, say, 'Hello' and make sure they're OK.
"They're going out of their way to honor me. If they do it, I do respect that. I'm grateful for that, that they take the time, think about me and try to do something. I don't take it for granted. For me, they're not our rivals. It's more the fans; the fans make it huge. I do respect what they do."
Rivera's tenure as the Yankees' closer began in 1997, the first year of Interleague Play, and he said that the intensity of the first Subway Series still stands out in his mind. He said that the annual intracity battles are still fun but that the tone has changed as time has passed.
"It's more for the fans," he said. "They've become like another team in our division, because we play them every year. It becomes another division game for us. We play them every year. It's good, not traveling -- 20 minutes travel, and we have an escort. Fans love it. I think they get good joy out of it."
Huff recalls youthful rivalry with new teammate Hughes
ST. PETERSBURG -- As left-hander David Huff reported for his first day as a member of the Yankees, he recalled a high school rivalry with new teammate Phil Hughes.
Huff attended Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., and can recall bumping up against Hughes in competitions against Foothill High School in Santa Ana, as well as in Mickey Mantle and Connie Mack ball.
"He had better stuff growing up. He was the righty who threw 95 with a nasty changeup," Huff said. "I think I faced him a couple of times. Lifetime, I'm probably 0-for off of him, but I'm not a hitter. It was a fun little competition between the two of us growing up."
Huff was claimed off waivers from the Indians on Saturday. In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees designated outfielder Ben Francisco for assignment; Francisco was 5-for-44 with a home run in 21 games.
In Huff the Yanks get another lefty in the bullpen who can offer distance. The 28-year-old allowed five runs in three innings this year and has a Major League record of 18-26 and 5.40 ERA in 58 games (52 starts), all with Cleveland, dating back to 2009.
"I've just got to take it a day at a time and just continue to do what I do, and that's go out there and pitch and get guys out," Huff said.
• Shortstop Eduardo Nunez (strained left oblique) had a setback on Saturday while taking batting practice, as manager Joe Girardi said that Nunez "felt like he couldn't finish his swing." Girardi expects Nunez, who has been on the disabled list retroactively to May 6, to take a few more days off.
• Right-hander David Phelps (bruised right forearm) threw a bullpen session on Sunday at Tropicana Field and reported no problems. Phelps is in line to pitch on Wednesday against the Mets at Yankee Stadium.
• Chris Stewart (tight left groin) said that he could have caught on Sunday, but Girardi held him out of the lineup because he still feels some lingering discomfort, starting Austin Romine instead. Stewart expects to catch on Monday at Citi Field.
• Andy Pettitte (strained left trapezius) will pitch a simulated game on Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., throwing approximately 70 to 75 pitches, and would then be cleared to rejoin the Yankees' rotation if it goes well.