- Associated Press - Friday, March 4, 2011

TAMPA, FLA. (AP) - New York Yankees backup catcher Francisco Cervelli will be in a protective boot for at least four weeks because of a broken left foot, and it’s uncertain when he’ll be able to play again.

Cervelli was hurt when he fouled a ball off his foot Wednesday against Houston, and the break is above the toes. Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced the extent of the injury before Friday night’s game against Boston.

Test results will be reviewed by a foot specialist. It’s not known how long it will take for Cervelli to complete a rehab program once the boot is removed.

“How long it would take after, if it was healed, you don’t know,” Girardi said.

Girardi said there are no current plans to use Jorge Posada, who is moving from catcher to designated hitter this season, behind the plate in spring training games.

“I can’t tell you 100 percent, exactly, what’s going to happen over the next four weeks,” Girardi said. “I can’t. Just like I wouldn’t have predicted this, but right now I don’t plan on having him really catch in a game. We’ll see what the other guys can do.”

Jesus Montero, Austin Romine and Gustavo Molina are the top contenders to back up starter Russell Martin, who had offseason surgery to repair a minor tear in his right knee.

“We still have plenty of guys here that could earn that spot,” Girardi said. “Basically what it does, it eliminates a catcher from the opening day competition.”

Cervelli does not have much luck in spring training. Last season he was sidelined with a concussion and in 2008 he broke his wrist in a collision at the plate.

“He’s had a rough go at spring training,” Girardi said. “I feel for him. You could see the disappointment when we walked over to tell him.”

Montero played at Triple-A last season and Romine was in Double-A. Molina has 23 games of major league experience, including four with the Red Sox last season.

“When you look at Montero and Romine, the one thing they’re lacking was the big league experience,” Girardi said. “But, they’re not lacking in talent. We’re not sure, if it’s one of the kids, how they’re going to handle it, but we might find out.”

NOTES: RHP Rafael Soriano, the former Tampa Bay closer who be the primary eighth-inning setup man for closer Mariano Rivera, threw 20 pitches during his first batting practice session. Bradley Suttle and Daniel Brewer put the ball in play in just three of 11 swings. “Probably as many swings and misses in a batting practice session as I’ve ever seen,” Girardi said. Soriano could be ready for his first game action after one more BP outing.

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