NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka is something of a horse racing enthusiast in his free time, and while the right-hander is focused on Thursday's start against the Athletics, he is planning to clear some time in his schedule for the Belmont Stakes on Saturday.
Tanaka said that he will be cheering for California Chrome, who is attempting to become the 12th Triple Crown champion overall and the first since Affirmed in 1978.
"Obviously California Chrome had a good two races," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "You rarely see a Triple Crown, so definitely I'm rooting for him to win the race."
California Chrome jockey Victor Espinoza and assistant trainer Alan Sherman each threw out ceremonial first pitches at Yankee Stadium before Monday's game against the Mariners. Tanaka said that he did not have the opportunity to meet them, but he is looking forward to watching their bid for history.
Beltran may return to Yanks' lineup today
NEW YORK -- Carlos Beltran has experienced no further issues with his right elbow and could rejoin the Yankees' lineup as a designated hitter today against the A's, manager Joe Girardi said.
Beltran played his third extended spring training game at the club's Tampa, Fla., complex on Wednesday morning and traveled to New York, according to Girardi, who is hopeful that Beltran will be ready to be activated from the disabled list.
"He could possibly be in the lineup tomorrow," Girardi said Wednesday. "We'll make a decision tomorrow, see how he feels, and he could be in the lineup tomorrow."
Beltran has not played in a Major League game since May 12, when he took himself out of the lineup for a Subway Series game against the Mets because of sharp pain in his right elbow.
The injury was diagnosed as a bone spur, and two cortisone injections helped to alleviate the discomfort; enough that Beltran believes he can avoid surgery, which would have cost him eight to 12 weeks of the season.
Girardi said that he will only use Beltran as a designated hitter for now, hoping to limit the chances of a flare-up with the elbow.
"I think it'll be DH exclusively until a little bit later on," Girardi said. "We'll just take this step by step. Our first goal was to get him back as a hitter."
'Ecstatic' LeBlanc added; Aceves designated
NEW YORK -- Wade LeBlanc said that when he learned he had been claimed off waivers from the Angels on Tuesday, a smile spread across his face. For the 29-year-old left-hander, it was hearing the word "Yankees" that made him happiest.
"You're ecstatic," LeBlanc said. "When I thought about my career path, I never associated it with the New York Yankees, so this is definitely beyond excitement."
LeBlanc joined the Yankees' bullpen on Wednesday and will serve as a long reliever, replacing Alfredo Aceves, who was designated for assignment. LeBlanc had been with Triple-A Salt Lake in the Halos' system, where he was 5-1 with a 3.69 ERA in nine starts.
The Yankees also recalled right-hander Jose Ramirez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday, optioning right-hander Preston Claiborne to Triple-A.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he will use Ramirez as a multiple-innings pitcher, similar to how he has been using Adam Warren. Ramirez was 2-0 with a save and an 0.84 ERA in seven appearances at Triple-A after missing the first month of the season with a left oblique strain.
"He's somewhat of a power guy with an outstanding changeup and a slider that has become better," Girardi said. "He has the ability to strike out people and be a swing-and-miss guy at times. He's been a guy who's been used to going multiple innings, because he's been a starter most of his career."
Kelley cleared for rehab stint after sim game
NEW YORK -- Shawn Kelley threw about 25 pitches in a simulated game on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium and has been cleared for a Minor League rehabilitation assignment with Double-A Trenton, beginning on Saturday.
It is possible that Kelley could be activated from the disabled list to rejoin the Yankees' bullpen on Monday in Kansas City. He said that he felt strong in the session, in which he threw to Kelly Johnson and Scott Sizemore.
"We'll see how it feels after Saturday," Kelley said. "If I need another one, then we'll do it. If I feel fine and my stuff's there, that might be the only one. I feel normal. I feel like I did before my back hurt."
Kelley has not pitched in a big league game since May 6 in Anaheim due to a strained lumbar spine. He is 1-2 with a 3.52 ERA in 16 appearances this season.
Yanks legend Williams to perform benefit concert
NEW YORK -- Yankees fan favorite Bernie Williams is scheduled to perform a special benefit concert on Friday at the Madison Theatre at Molloy College in Rockville Centre, N.Y.
A Grammy-nominated guitarist, Williams will perform a sophisticated mix of Latin rhythms, smooth jazz, blues and pop classics at the 8 p.m. ET concert. Tickets are on sale for $50-$75.
All proceeds will support the Long Island Bombers and the Rockville Centre Little League Challenger division. The Bombers are a team of blind and visually impaired athletes, and the Challengers are a team of boys and girls, ages 6-21, with a variety of special needs.
"A lot of people will come up to me and tell me they were fans of mine when I played with the Yankees, but I will tell you that I am fans of these Challenger and Bomber players, as well as their families and care givers who make it possible for them to take the field," Williams said in a statement.
"I am grateful to all who have purchased tickets to this event, and hope that we can fill the Madison Theatre, and celebrate a special night of music, baseball and raise a lot of money for this great cause."
In his 16-year career patrolling center field for the Yankees, Williams was a four-time World Series champion and a five-time All Star. For tickets, please visit madisontheatreny.org or call (516) 323-4444.
• Mark Teixeira felt good after returning to the Yankees' lineup with a home run, single and two RBIs on Tuesday, according to Girardi. Teixeira told Girardi there was no soreness in his right wrist.
"I believe there's no issue," Girardi said. "If the issue arises then we have to adjust to it, like we did during the game the other day. Right now, everything's positive."
• CC Sabathia played catch on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, a positive step as he works back from an injection in his ailing right knee. Sabathia made 25 tosses on flat ground and 60 feet. The Yankees have said that Sabathia will not return before July.
"It's a lot better than we were two weeks ago, I can tell you that," Girardi said. "He's out there playing catch today, and that's a sign in the right direction. It's a step closer to getting him on a mound and getting him doing what we expect him to do."