NYY@TOR: Soriano hits 400th homer, dazzles on defense

TORONTO -- Alfonso Soriano speaks often about his level of comfort at home plate, and the numbers certainly back that up. It's obvious that he has also felt incredibly at home slipping back into his old Yankees uniform.

Soriano has hit 10 home runs in 25 August games for the Yankees, marking the first time he has reached double digits in homers for a calendar month since April 2011, when he accomplished the feat with the Cubs.

The 37-year-old slugger, who homered twice in New York's 7-1 win over the Blue Jays on Tuesday, joined Tino Martinez (2005) as the only Yankees to hit 10 homers in a calendar month at age 37 or older.

"It's great to me," Soriano said. "When I left here [in 2004], I wasn't sad, because it's part of the game, but I thought that I had something to prove to myself, my teammates and the fans.

"I'm just playing my game. That's what I like to do. Focus every day, try to get better and try to show the people that I can keep doing it."

The Yankees were attracted to Soriano because of the power he would bring to the lineup, but he has proven to be helpful in other areas as well. Soriano's baserunning has been better than advertised, and manager Joe Girardi has also appreciated his outfield defense.

"He's played really, really good out there," Girardi said. "From what we heard, he said he worked really hard in Chicago at it."

Girardi believes that Soriano has responded to being dropped into a veteran clubhouse fighting for a playoff spot, comparing it to the effect that joining the Yankees seemed to have on Ichiro Suzuki after his July acquisition from the Mariners last year.

"It's kind of like Ich; Ich came from a club where it was mostly kids," Girardi said. "The Cubs are a lot of kids, so it may be a little more difficult to relate, in a sense. Now, he gets around people his age and it's probably easier."

Nunez day to day; X-rays on knee negative

TOR@NYY: Nunez appears to injure ankle, stays in game

TORONTO -- There were giggles in the Yankees' clubhouse when a wheelchair mysteriously replaced the seat in front of Eduardo Nunez's locker, a reference to the infielder's theatrics after crumpling to the artificial turf with a right knee injury on Tuesday.

Vernon Wells, Joba Chamberlain and David Huff took the prank further, scurrying out with athletic tape to "chalk" a body outline near second base at Rogers Centre. It was all in good fun until Nunez had to cut short batting practice ahead of Wednesday's 7-2 Yankees loss to the Blue Jays, after which the club revealed that Nunez would require an MRI exam on the knee. On Thursday, the results of that exam came back negative, and the Yankees declared Nunez day to day.

Mark Reynolds made his first career start at second base on Wednesday, filling in for Nunez, who said that he caught a spike in the turf during the eighth inning of Tuesday's 7-1 win over the Blue Jays.

"Weird things happen to me all the time, I guess," Nunez said.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Wednesday's game that Nunez was only about "50-50" to play, and he never entered. The Yankees were also without second baseman Robinson Cano, who is not expected to play until Friday at the earliest because of a left hand bruise.

Girardi said that he spoke to general manager Brian Cashman about calling up an infielder, but no move was made.

"We talked about it a little bit, but I didn't want to," Girardi said. "We probably would have had to get rid of a pitcher, and I didn't want to do that for one day."

Girardi said that he had been amused by the players' ribbing of Nunez.

"It's to be expected -- it's good," Girardi said. "It's good that they're in a good mood in there, and they're loose, and they had a little fun."

Nunez had also laughed about the pranks in the clubhouse, guessing that either Derek Jeter or Cano had been involved somehow.

"I think these guys have to be part of this team," Nunez said. "I've got to find out; do something, too."

Bombers bits

• The Yankees have set their rotation for the upcoming weekend series against the Orioles. CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes will start in the set. There had been speculation that manager Joe Girardi might push Hughes back to next week's series against the White Sox.

Zoilo Almonte and Travis Hafner are hitting tee-and-toss and could start taking batting practice by the end of the week. It is likely that they both could join the Yankees after rosters expand on Sunday.

• Michael Pineda is throwing side sessions, and David Phelps is moving closer to throwing. Both recovering right-handers are in Tampa, Fla., and it is possible that they could help the Yankees out of the bullpen in September.

• On this date in 1977, Ron Guidry pitched his third shutout of the year in a 1-0 victory over the Rangers. He faced just one batter over the minimum, permitting two hits. Graig Nettles tripled and scored on a Reggie Jackson single for the game's only run.