NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano cannot remember a better start to any of his big league seasons, and that's exactly the brand of offensive production that the Yankees were banking on receiving from their All-Star second baseman.
"This is one of my best starts -- I'd say it's the best one," Cano said. "That's what you want, especially when you don't have the main guys here. Most of the guys are out, so you want to have a good start and help the team win games."
Cano offered a terse "no" on Friday when asked if he and the Yankees had revisited contract negotiations since he switched representation to CAA's tandem of Jay-Z and Brodie Van Wagener, but clearly the topic has not affected his performance on the diamond.
Over his last 15 games entering Friday's showdown with the Blue Jays, Cano has batted .391 with 13 runs, six doubles, seven homers, 17 RBIs and nine multihit games.
He hit his seventh homer of the season in the Yanks' 5-3 win over the Blue Jays on Thursday; last year he did not hit his seventh until his 46th game, on May 26.
"With this team you always have a lot of responsibility, because this team's all about winning, and then the playoffs and the World Series," he said. "But this is the kind of the team that if you come up here, you have to produce and help the team to win games."
Cano has reached base safely in 18 of his first 21 games, and he believes his participation on the Dominican Republic squad in the World Baseball Classic -- for which he earned MVP honors -- was a factor in getting his year started on a positive note.
"I would say it helped a lot," he said. "When you're in Spring Training for those couple of weeks, you take three at-bats today, then you're off tomorrow, then you play the next day. [In the Classic you] have to just go out there and play from the first inning to the last, and play every game like it's the last game."
Trip to disabled list a possibility for Youkilis
NEW YORK -- Kevin Youkilis took swings in the batting cage at Yankee Stadium on Friday, but he was out of the lineup again, and if he is not ready to start on Saturday, the Yankees could consider placing him on the disabled list.
Youkilis has not played since Saturday due to soreness in his lower back. He said his back is "getting better every day," but with the Yankees facing left-hander J.A. Happ on Saturday, manager Joe Girardi said that a retroactive stint on the DL is a possibility.
"Well, it's been a week now," Girardi said. "I think you look and see where he's at tomorrow, and then you make a decision what you're going to do, and when you think you're going to get him back."
If the Yankees retroactively place Youkilis on the DL, he would not be eligible to be activated until the first game of the May 7-9 series against the Rockies in Denver.
Youkilis spent time on the DL with tightness in his lower back in both 2011 and 2012 while with the Red Sox. He has yet not had any tests for this latest flareup, which could be a positive sign.
"We haven't had anything done," Girardi said. "They don't think it's an issue where he needs a test. Let's keep our fingers crossed for tomorrow."
Girardi taking wait-and-see approach with Wang
NEW YORK -- The photocopied sheets of the Yankees' Minor League report land on manager Joe Girardi's desk each day, but for the moment he isn't digging too closely into the details of Chien-Ming Wang's pitching lines for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Wang made his second start at the Triple-A level on Thursday, allowing three runs (one earned) on four hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-1 loss to Columbus. Through two starts he has compiled a 0.75 ERA.
"I'll probably start taking it seriously when I hear reports that are glowing reports, that he's throwing the ball really well," Girardi said. "I don't think you can make too much of two starts.
"I think you have to see how a guy responds start after start after start, going every fifth day. We've all seen him pitch at a very high level. If he can get back to close to that, he becomes a viable option for us."
Wang, 33, signed with the Yanks this spring after a successful turn in the World Baseball Classic with Chinese Taipei. A 19-game winner in both 2006 and 2007 with the Yankees, Wang was just 6-6 with a 4.94 ERA in 21 games (16 starts) over the last two big league seasons with the Nationals.
Wang has said that he is pitching with reduced velocity, making his command more important. Through 12 innings of Triple-A work, he has walked two and struck out five; there is no timetable for promoting him.
"None of us really talked about, 'We're going to look at him after five starts,'" Girardi said. "We figure it's a guy that can give us depth. It's a guy that has had a lot of success here. ... They signed him for depth and an opportunity to pitch here if we need him."
Girardi also noted the success of left-hander Vidal Nuno, who has followed a strong spring by going 2-0 with a 1.54 ERA in four starts for the RailRiders, but said, "I'm not looking to make a change. Our organization is not looking to make a change. We want to get guys going."
• Manager Joe Girardi has been impressed by the offensive contributions of catcher Francisco Cervelli, who hit his third home run of the season in Thursday's 5-3 victory over the Blue Jays, having done so in just 52 at-bats. He is one shy of his career high, set in 2011.
"You can look back at all the work he did last year," Girardi said. "He played winter ball this year. [He wants] to be an everyday player. It's not that he didn't have that desire before, but at times he was here and he wasn't playing every day.
"Last year he got a chance to play every day, and he got a chance to play in winter ball. I think as you get older, a lot of guys start to improve, because you get more at-bats under your belt. His at-bats have been really good."
• Reliever Shawn Kelley celebrated his 29th birthday on Friday.
• On this date in 2005, Alex Rodriguez hit three home runs off Bartolo Colon and tallied 10 RBIs in the Yankees' 12-4 win over the Angels, in New York. A-Rod became just the second Yankee to total 10 or more RBIs in a game, following Tony Lazzeri, who holds the American League record, with 11 RBIs in a 25-2 win over the Athletics on May 24, 1936.