NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's return to the Yankees' lineup lasted all of one at-bat.

On Friday, Rodriguez was back in the starting lineup as the designated hitter for the first time since departing Monday's game against the Tigers with what was eventually diagnosed with a strained left calf. But on his second-inning groundout to third on the first pitch he saw from Felix Hernandez, Rodriguez jogged slowly to first and was lifted for a pinch-hitter the next time his turn in the order came around in the fourth.

"My swing, and probably that first step out of the box, I felt something," Rodriguez said. "I don't think it's any worse [than before]. I think it's probably the same."

Manager Joe Girardi said Rodriguez would probably miss the next few days, but that a trip to the disabled list was unlikely. No tests on that calf are currently scheduled, according to Girardi.

Rodriguez had been taking batting practice since Wednesday and hadn't reported any issues, leaving Girardi confident enough to slot him in as the DH in the cleanup spot for Friday's series opener with the Mariners.

"I talked to Alex, I talked to our trainers, I talked to our doctors and everyone felt he was ready to go," Girardi said. "We wanted to give him time, and we thought today was the day. Obviously it wasn't."

Rodriguez said his unfamiliarity with calf injuries -- this is his first -- has kept him in the dark about when to return and how far he can push it.

"It's hard to gauge what you can play through," he said.

Rodriguez's return might be complicated by the fact that the Yankees travel to Toronto -- and the Rogers Centre turf -- after this weekend set with Seattle. Rodriguez suffered a groin injury the last time the Yankees visited the Blue Jays by playing on the turf for three consecutive days, and Girardi chose not to start him three consecutive days in St. Petersburg earlier this month.

At the same time, it's likely that Rodriguez will work his way back into the lineup as the DH for a few days before returning full-time to the field. The Yankees placed Lance Berkman on the disabled list and called up infielder Eduardo Nunez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday largely because they needed an extra infielder in case Rodriguez took more time to return to third.

Either way, it's another disappointing speed bump in a season of them for Rodriguez, who was just warming up prior to the injury.

"I want to be out there. I thought I was beginning to get in a groove," Rodriguez said. "It's obviously really frustrating."

As important a piece as Rodriguez is to the Yankees' offense, the team is a remarkable 10-1 when he doesn't play, including the three wins earlier this week against the Tigers.

"We'll just try to get him back on the field," said Girardi.

Cano a fine fill-in as Yanks' cleanup man

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' offense didn't exactly slump in the absence of Alex Rodriguez over the last three days. With their regular cleanup hitter out of the lineup with a tight left calf, the Yankees scored 26 runs in three victories over the Tigers.

A big part of that offensive boom was the play of Robinson Cano, filling in for Rodriguez in the four-spot. Cano homered in each of the three contests, going 5-for-12 with five runs scored and five RBIs in the three games.

Producing in Rodriguez's stead in the cleanup spot isn't something new for Cano this season. As good as the second baseman has been in the five-spot, he's been even better hitting fourth in 2010. In 10 games as the Yankees' cleanup batter, Cano is hitting .359 with five homers, 11 RBIs and 14 runs. Not bad for the guy who many thought couldn't handle the pressure of hitting fifth entering the season.

Not coincidentally, the Yankees are 9-1 when Cano bats cleanup.

"We've been without Alex, and Robbie's stepped up," manager Joe Girardi said. "He's stepped up all year for us."

Cano said he doesn't change his approach when he's hitting fourth.

"I go with the same [mind-set] and just pretend I'm in the fifth spot," he said. "I go out and try to get a pitch to drive."

Placing Cano in the fourth slot may have been what the Yankees needed to break the second baseman out of a brief slump. Cano had not homered in the first 15 games of August, with only two RBIs in the span. Further, he had batted just .179 in the previous eight games before Tuesday.

"It's a good week," Cano said of his last few games. "Just forget about what happened in the past and keep moving forward."

Righty McAllister completes deal for Kearns

NEW YORK -- The Yankees sent right-hander Zach McAllister to the Indians on Friday, as the player to be named later, completing the July 30 trade for outfielder Austin Kearns.

The 22-year-old McAllister was regarded as one of the Yankees' top pitching prospects coming into this campaign, earning selection last season as the club's Minor League Pitcher of the Year with Double-A Trenton and ranked as New York's fifth-best prospect by Baseball America.

McAllister had spent all of this year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, going 8-10 with a 5.09 ERA in 24 starts, ranking 11th in the International League in innings pitched (132 2/3). He was a third-round selection in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.

Kearns, 30, is batting .355 (11-for-31) with one homer and five RBIs in 11 games since joining New York.

HOPE Week inclusion an honor for Murray

NEW YORK -- Liz Murray looked at the people around her holding copies of her memoir, "Breaking Night," and the film made about her life, "Homeless to Harvard."

"Bizarre," Murray said when asked what it was like to see her book carried around Yankee Stadium. "Surreal. It just shows you how possible it is for anyone to overcome."

A Bronx native, Murray was at the Stadium as part of a HOPE (Helping Others Persevere & Excel) Week event celebrating Johanna and Melida Arias, a pair of sisters who, like Murray, have overcome homelessness.

Murray's story is particularly remarkable. Murray started supporting her parents at the age of 10 and found herself homeless by the time she was 15. She overcame those obstacles, however, to finish high school in just two years and earn a scholarship to Harvard University.

Murray, who earned her degree from Harvard in June 2009, now serves as a motivational speaker.

"I'm born and raised in the Bronx, so it's an honor to be here," said Murray, who did her best to pass along some advice to the Arias sisters. "Just stick together as a family, and that hard times come and go. Stay together. Be there for each other."

Worth noting

Andy Pettitte said he is still waiting on a formal schedule for his rehabilitation after an MRI earlier in the week revealed a small persistent strain of the left groin. Pettitte is planning on traveling with the team to Toronto next week, although that is not official yet. ... Pettitte declined to comment on word that Roger Clemens was indicted on Thursday. ... Reliever Alfredo Aceves will make another rehab appearance for Double-A Trenton this weekend in Portland, Maine. Manager Joe Girardi said it would not be Aceves' last rehab game. "This is Spring Training for him. We think he needs to build some arm strength," Girardi said. "We want to make sure he's ready before he gets back." ... Following this series with the Mariners, the Yankees will play only six more games against teams with losing records, with two September series against the Orioles.