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Yankees lineup vs. Rays - Brett Gardner may not return this season

Injuries, injuries everywhere.

Al Bello

The Yankees currently sit five games out of the second wild card spot, trailing the Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Seattle Mariners. At 10 games back of the division, the picture there is somehow even worse. Chances of the playoffs becoming a reality have all but slipped away. However, despite that, there are still games to be played. Games that feel pretty meaningless at this point, but ones that have to be endured until the team can hopefully revamp itself this offseason.

Here's tonight's lineup for the first of three games against the Rays:

You'll notice that Brett Gardner and Martin Prado are missing from the lineup. Prado is still hobbled by an injured hamstring that cost him a couple of games last week. Joe Girardi put Prado in a couple games over the weekend, but he was obviously not at 100% when running the bases. To keep the situation from getting worse, he's not in the lineup tonight.

Brett Gardner has been diagnosed with an abdominal strain and will see team doctors tonight. Girardi says there are concerns that the Yankees' left fielder may not be able to return this season. It's really unfortunate, as Gardner has been one of the better hitters in the lineup over the course of the year, but there is really no point in pushing him at this point. The team is probably not making it to the postseason, so getting everyone healthy for next season has to be the top priority right now.

Masahiro Tanaka threw 45 pitches in three pain-free simulated innings earlier today. He says he feels better than he did when he pitched a simulated game in Detroit before, but there are still other steps to take before he can return to the big league mound. Next up is a bullpen session before either another simulated game or a start in the instructional leagues. Assuming that goes well, he may be able to return toward the end of the season. Hopefully he is healthy enough to avoid Tommy John surgery, even if that means not getting back to the majors this season.