Joe Girardi says Jacoby Ellsbury returning by June 30 “is probably going to be pretty difficult”

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Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury had hoped to return from a sprained right knee by the end of the month, but it sounds like he won’t be ready to come off the disabled list by then.

Manager Joe Girardi told Christina De Nicola of MLB.com that Ellsbury coming back by June 30 “is probably going to be pretty difficult” because he still isn’t running at 100 percent one month after suffering the injury and “it’s just not where we want it to be physically.”

Brett Gardner initially shifted from left field to center field following Ellsbury’s injury, but of late the Yankees have mostly been using rookie call-up Mason Williams in center field with Gardner back in a corner spot.

Ellsbury hit .324 with 14 steals and a .783 OPS in 37 games before the injury, leading the Yankees with a .412 on-base percentage.

Rays’ Díaz gets $24 million, three-year deal, avoids arbitration

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Tampa Bay Rays infielder Yandy Díaz agreed to a $24 million, three-year contract on Tuesday that avoided a salary arbitration hearing.

Díaz’s agreement could be worth $36 million over four seasons.

The 31-year old will receive $6 million this season, $8 million in 2024 and $10 million for 2025. The 2026 club is $12 million with no buyout. There is a $1 million assignment bonus that would be payable by receiving team.

Díaz has spent parts of six seasons in the majors with Cleveland (2017-18) and Tampa Bay (2019-22). He has a career average of .278 with 39 home runs and 198 RBIs.

Acquired by the Rays in a three-team trade on Dec. 13, 2018, Díaz hit .296 with nine homers and 57 RBIs in 137 games last season, He career highs with 71 runs, 140 hits, 33 doubles, and 78 walks.

Díaz was the third Rays’ arbitration-eligible player to reach a deal.

Reliever Pete Fairbanks agreed Friday to a $12 million, three-year contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons. The 29-year-old right-hander was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Left-hander Jeffrey Springs also agreed last week to a $31 million, four-year contract that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year-old began last season in the bullpen and transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, and outfielder Harold Ramírez.