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First place Yankees nearly back to full strength

The title alone should scare other MLB teams. With all the injuries sustained by the Yankees so far this season, it's honestly surprising to see that they sit atop the American League East with a fairly comfortable 2.5 game lead on the Boston Red Sox. What's going to be incredible is when this team gets back to full strength, or as close to that as they can possibly get. Below is a list of players that have been injured and put on the DL for some length of time and their anticipated return date. 

Derek Jeter - Obviously this is the big name. Amidst his quest for hit number 3000, he went down with a grade one calf strain on June 13 against the Cleveland Indians. Jeter is expected to start a two game rehab stint with the double-A Trenton Thunder tonight. It's highly likely he'll be joining the Yankees and continue his pursuit of 3000 on George Steinbrenner's birthday, July 4, at Progressive Field in Cleveland for a three game set against the Indians. The Yankees are 13-3 without "The Captain", but I'm not complaining about him being back. In fact, the Yankees learned that Eduardo Nunez is capable of some good things in Jeter's absence.

Phil Hughes - Poor Hughes had a horrendous April while he was still on the active roster, starting three games and pitching only 10.1 innings while allowing 16 runs on 19 hits. That'll be a 13.94 ERA. His fastball averaged a velocity of merely 89.3 mph and he was placed on the DL on April 15. He's had fantastic progress in making his return to the Yankees. His outing on Wednesday in Trenton lasted 6.1 innings, where he allowed one run on three hits and two walks while striking out eight. His fastball hit 94 mph. The Yankees have to decide whether or not they want to have him pitch in one final rehab start on Monday at triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre or if they wish to have him start on Wednesday in Cleveland. Either way, the latest he'll be back is a few games after the All-Star break. 

Three more players after the jump. 

Bartolo Colon - This one shouldn't take long. After injuring his hamstring on June 11 against Cleveland, he was placed on the DL. Well, he's back today and starting at Citi Field against the New York Mets. Please, no Chien Ming Wang type injury today. My advice for Colon: "While batting, just stand at the plate with the bat on your shoulder. Go get 'em!"

Eric Chavez - This isn't exactly as big of a loss anymore for the Yankees, but Chavez is eligible to come off the DL on July 5. Apparently he experienced a setback a few days ago and isn't expected to be back right on time. Expect to see him back in pinstripes against Tampa Bay next week or right after the All-Star break. Bad news for poor Ramiro Pena, as he'll likely be demoted to triple-A. 

Rafael Soriano - Sigh. This is according to "Le ESPN"...

Also on the injury front: Right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano threw 32 fastballs during a bullpen session on Friday, according to Cashman, and, "if everything goes well between bullpens, batting practices and rehab assignments, the first series back from the All-Star break is when we'll get him back."

We'll see about that... 

It's definitely possible for the Yankees to be fully healthy, minus Joba Chamberlain, right after the All-Star break. Strap on your seat belts, the ride toward another American League East title is only going to get more exciting from now on.