New York Yankees outfielder Curtis Granderson believes he is "getting close" to returning to the Bronx, reports Matt Ehalt of ESPN New York. The 32-year-old has finally stepped up the rehab on his broken finger, making him optimistic that he'll be back in the Bombers' lineup before the end of the month.
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Out since July 7 with a broken pinkie on his left hand, Granderson was relegated to rehabbing in a swimming pool for several weeks following a minor operation on his finger. When he finally cleared the six-week hurdle a few days ago, he was given the go-ahead to swing a bat and start taking some soft toss.
General manager Brian Cashman was a bit more reserved in his estimate of when Granderson will return, saying that anything earlier than August would be a "gift from above." Cashman's reservations in hoping for an early return are well founded, as the GM has watched Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Kevin Youkilis all aggravate injuries shortly after coming off the disabled list.
Granderson suffered a similar fate earlier this year, breaking his pinkie just a week after returning from fracturing the same hand. The three-time All-Star has appeared in just eight games for the Yankees so far this season, collecting seven hits in 28 at-bats.
Benefiting from the short right-field porch in the Bronx, Granderson led all of baseball with 84 home runs between 2011 and 2012, and should provide a huge power boost to the Yankees' offense when/if he returns. The club's outfield has combined to hit just 27 home runs so far this season, and the team is 13th in the American League in big flies overall.
A free agent at the end of the season, Granderson will need to perform well in a short window to make a lasting impression on prospective suitors.