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Yankees’ Brett Gardner had minor core surgery last month

Brett Gardner had a minor surgical procedure in October to address a core muscle injury and expects to be ready for Spring Training, the Yankees outfielder said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

Gardner told MLB Network Radio that he is completing his physical therapy following the surgery, which he hopes will correct an injury that affected Gardner in both July and September of this past season.

The Yankees said that Gardner had the procedure performed on his right rectus abdominis muscle on Oct. 16. The surgery was performed by Dr. William Meyers at the Philadelphia Vincera Institute in Philadelphia.

“I’m just about feeling 90 to 95 percent from that,” Gardner said. “I should be back to 100 percent here in about a week or so and pretty much have my normal offseason from here on out, and get ready for 2015.”

Gardner, 31, batted .256 with a career-high 17 home runs and 58 RBIs in 148 games for New York this past season, serving as the starting left fielder and having inked a four-year, $52 million contract extension that will kick in next year.

He missed a game on July 9 in Cleveland with what was initially feared to be a hernia, and Gardner’s September performance was affected by a recurrence of what was described at the time as a lower abdominal strain.

Gardner logged just 12 hits in his final 72 at-bats of the year (.167), knocking 11 points off his season batting average.

“I think here in the next week or two I’ll be pretty darn close to 100 percent and just be able to go through my normal offseason routine,” Gardner said. “That’s one of the reasons we just went ahead and got it done after the season.

“Obviously without making the playoffs we had a much longer offseason than we would have liked, but it also gave me a little extra time on the front end to get this thing taken care of and not have it be an issue next year. I’m looking forward to having that behind me pretty soon.”

Yankees announce 2015 Spring Training schedule

The Yankees are scheduled to play their first Spring Training exhibition of 2015 on March 3 against the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla., and will host Philadelphia the next afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla.

New York’s Grapefruit League schedule, officially announced on Monday, will feature a total of 33 exhibition contests with 16 home games. The slate includes matchups with all four American League East rivals and five night games at Steinbrenner Field.

Yankees pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to Spring Training on Feb. 20, and will hold their first workout on Feb. 21. Position players are scheduled to report on Feb. 25 and the first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 26.

Meetings with AL East opponents are as follows: Orioles (March 28 at 1:05 p.m.), Rays (March 9 at 1:05 p.m. and April 1 at 1:05 p.m.), Red Sox (March 11 at 1:05 p.m.) and Blue Jays (March 17 at 7:05 p.m.).

Night games at Steinbrenner Field will include: March 6 vs. Pirates, March 12 vs. Braves, March 17 vs. Blue Jays, March 19 vs. Phillies and March 24 vs. Tigers.

The final day of Spring Training is April 3, when the Yankees will host the Nationals at 1:05 p.m. ET. Opening Day for the regular season is April 6 against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium.

Full 2015 New York Yankees Spring Training schedule & information

Season tickets for 2015 Yankees Spring Training home games are on sale at www.steinbrennerfield.com or www.yankees.com. Individual-game spring tickets will go on sale on Friday, January 9 at 10:00 a.m. at the Steinbrenner Field box office, online at http://www.yankees.com or by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

For ticket information, fans can call (813) 879-2244 or visit www.yankees.com or www.steinbrennerfield.com. This marks the Yankees’ 20th Spring Training at Steinbrenner Field, which was originally named Legends Field and renamed in Steinbrenner’s honor on March 27, 2008.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman signs three-year contract extension

The offseason is officially underway for the Yankees, who checked off an important piece of business on Friday, finalizing a three-year contract extension with Brian Cashman to serve as the club’s senior vice president and general manager.

Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner recently stated that the organization was in discussions about an extension with Cashman, 47, who has served as the Yankees’ GM since February 1998.

Cashman’s return is the first domino to fall in what promises to be a busy winter for the Yankees, who missed the playoffs for a second consecutive season in 2014, winning 84 games to finish in second place in the American League East.

Steinbrenner has said that the Yankees will pursue a shortstop to replace retired captain Derek Jeter and are in need of a starting pitcher, with right-hander Ivan Nova recovering from Tommy John surgery and not expected to be ready to start the season. The Yankees also need to address the situation of closer David Robertson, who is set to file for free agency.

In evaluating Cashman’s construction of the 2014 roster, Steinbrenner stood by the signings of free agents Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Masahiro Tanaka, stating that he approved those deals and believes they will work out in the future.

Steinbrenner also has noted that Cashman was able to rebuild the Yankees on the fly in midseason after several injuries, triggering deals to import Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado and Chase Headley, among others.

Cashman joined the Yankees organization in 1986 as a 19-year-old intern in the club’s Minor League and scouting department. As general manager, his clubs have made the postseason in 14 of 17 seasons, claiming 12 division titles, six American League championships and four World Series titles.

He is the third-longest tenured general manager in the game, behind the Giants’ Brian Sabean and the A’s Billy Beane, and Cashman is the longest-serving Yankees GM since Hall of Famer Ed Barrow led the team from October 28, 1920, to February 20, 1945.

The Captain’s last stand

Derek Jeter describes himself as a “creature of habit,” something that has helped him navigate two decades in the big leagues, and so he stayed true to that philosophy on Thursday while commuting to his final game at Yankee Stadium.

Yes, as Jeter said, he drives his own vehicle from his current West Village apartment – don’t believe everything you see in television commercials – and yes, even the retiring Yankees captain hits traffic while traveling from Manhattan to the Bronx.

“A little bit,” Jeter said. “I took pretty much the same route.”

Jeter said that he did not closely follow the weather forecast in advance of Thursday’s game against the Orioles, but he is obviously aware of the wet conditions; his need for windshield wipers would have told him that much.

“My feelings are, I hope the rain stops,” Jeter said. “That’s basically it. Everybody’s talking about how much it’s supposed to rain, so I hope the weather cooperates and we can play.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he expects the Yankees and Major League Baseball will do everything possible to get the game in as scheduled. Yankee Stadium gates opened on time at 4 p.m. ET, but batting practice was cancelled for both clubs.

“I would suggest you make some plans, because I think we’re going to be here a while,” Girardi said.

Girardi said that he had not landed upon a concrete decision on how to script a moment for Jeter’s Stadium exit. The idea to involve Jeter and Andy Pettitte in last year’s memorable Mariano Rivera pitching change struck during that game, and Girardi seemed to be hoping for similar inspiration on Thursday.

“I’m just going to kind of let it go; just let it go through and take its course,” Girardi said. “Just see what happens.”

Jeter said that he allowed someone else to handle his numerous ticket requests for Thursday’s game, trying to keep his focus between the white lines.

“I’ve got family and friends [coming], but they come a lot anyway,” Jeter said. “My mom’s got a big family, so I don’t know how many tickets. I stayed away from it. It’s too much to think about.”

Jeter said he would prefer to wait until after the game to attempt describing his feelings about his final evening wearing the pinstripes.

“It’s tough for me to start getting emotional and sentimental before I’ve got to play,” Jeter said. “So let me play the game first. I’ll let you know how I felt about it afterwards.”

Girardi said that he planned to speak with Jeter about his plans for the final three games of the season at Fenway Park in Boston. Jeter said that a quick conversation did take place with Girardi, but did not reveal specifics about the weekend ahead.

“I’m not thinking about Boston,” Jeter said. “Right now I’m thinking about today. Let’s just go through today first, then I can give you what our plan is for Boston.”

Pregame briefing: Last home series for Derek Jeter

Hello from Yankee Stadium, where the Yankees and Orioles will play the first game of their four-game series this evening at 7:05 p.m. ET. The Yankees are still mathematically alive, so this series has meaning, but it looked as though it might carry a whole lot more a month or two ago when the Yanks were talking about mounting a run for the division crown. The Orioles can clinch home field advantage in the AL Division Series tonight, so that’s something.

You can watch on YES or listen on WFAN 660 AM/101.9 FM.

Other updates from the Yankees clubhouse:

  • The Yankees have claimed outfielder Eurys Perez on waivers from the Nationals, and he’ll be with the team tomorrow. Perez gives the Yanks another bench player who can play all three outfield spots and pinch-run, which could come in handy since Jacoby Ellsbury’s hamstring is keeping him out of action. Girardi said that Ellsbury still has some blood at the top of the hamstring, so he’s unable to run.
  • The Yanks designated left-hander Josh Outman for assignment in a corresponding move; on his way out the door to make room for Perez. Outman stopped by Derek Jeter’s locker and asked for three autographed baseballs.
  • Jose Pirela will make his Major League debut tonight as the Yankees’ designated hitter, meaning the Yankees will have used 57 different players in 2014. That shatters the club record of 56, which was set all the way back in 2013… and that tells you a lot about these last two years. If Perez gets in, they’d have used 58.
  • Masahiro Tanaka was “all smiles” today, according to Girardi, and that means he is on track to pitch Saturday against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
  • Mark Teixeira (right wrist) had a cortisone injection, his third of the year, and hopes to be in the lineup tomorrow against Baltimore.
  • Carlos Beltran (elbow) is still feeling discomfort and probably isn’t available tonight.
  • CC Sabathia (right knee) played catch on Monday, the first time he has done so since having knee surgery in July … at least, officially. Sabathia admitted he has been playing catch and tossing around a football recently out of boredom, but at least now he doesn’t have to sneak around.
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