ATL@NYY: Ellsbury talks about injured calf

TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was scratched from Sunday's starting lineup and will also sit out Monday due to tightness in his right calf.

The Yankees called the decision "precautionary," and Ellsbury insisted he would have played through it during the regular season. The 30-year-old outfielder said he went through a normal workout Saturday, when his calf started to feel a little tight. He felt the same way when he reported to the clubhouse Sunday morning, so the club decided to take him out of the lineup.

"I let them know I was fine to play. That was the first thing I told them: 'I'm good to play,'" Ellsbury said. "They were kind of holding me back -- well, not holding me back -- they just said, 'Hey, let's just get this thing 100 percent."

Ellsbury said he hopes to return to the field Tuesday against the Red Sox, his former team, if he feels healthy by then. Considering Ellsbury's injury history and how much of his value is based on his speed, however, the Yankees seem content to wait.

"It doesn't sound like it's much, but thankfully it's March so we can make sure it's not going to be much," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "We'll make sure we take care of this, and if that takes a few days or a week, so be it."

Ellsbury had been scheduled to make Monday's road trip to Bradenton, Fla., to face the Pirates. But coach Rob Thomson, who's serving as the manager here while Joe Girardi is leading the Yankees' group in Panama, said Ellsbury will sit out that game as well.

Signed this offseason to a seven-year, $153 million deal, Ellsbury has spent a significant amount of time on the disabled list in two of his past four seasons. Cashman said that did not add to his level of concern over Ellsbury's current condition.

"I really just take it as a tight calf in Spring Training. Because he's an important player, you back off and make sure," Cashman said. "You'd like to have as many of your guys available to us when the bell rings, when those games count. Since these games don't count, I want to make sure everybody knows that we don't want to put anything added because his name is Jacoby Ellsbury.

"We don't want to all of a sudden say, 'We've got to get it out there so everybody feels good.' No. Everybody will feel good when he's out there when it counts, so that means giving it time."

Banuelos optioned to Minors, will remain starter

NYY@HOU: Banuelos returns to mound, fans Springer

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees optioned left-hander Manny Banuelos to Class A Tampa on Sunday, and general manager Brian Cashman assured that Banuelos will be a starting pitcher.

And Banuelos still expects that he'll make it to the Bronx at some point this season.

"I'll just try to keep pitching and get comfortable and [confident] and all that," Banuelos said Sunday. "I think I'm going to make it, if I stay healthy."

"Obviously it'd be great if he pitched his way in," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said in Panama. "He's got to work his way back."

Once considered one of the Yankees' most promising pitching prospects, Banuelos underwent Tommy John surgery after the 2012 season and returned to the mound late last year throwing 93-94 mph fastballs. Banuelos has used this spring to shake off some of the rust and said recently he's pleased to feel normal again.

"Like they say, I've got to make progress," Banuelos said. "I didn't pitch any games when I got hurt -- those [this spring] were the first ones. Just get confidence."

"It was good just to see him on a mound," Girardi added. "I would think once he starts pitching on a regular basis, he'll come back fairly quickly."

"Obviously the arm strength's there. I think he's a little rusty, which is understandable," Cashman said. "We'll see how the rest of Minor League camp goes before the actual placement will take place."

Bombers bits

• Cashman wouldn't confirm reports that the Yankees have received interest from other teams about catcher Francisco Cervelli, who's out of options and competing for the backup job behind Brian McCann. Cervelli has hit .409/.458/.864 with three homers this spring, but the Yankees have younger options in Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy.

"Obviously we have a great deal of catching, more so than most organizations, and they're all playing well. I've seen the speculation in the papers, but we're very comfortable with what we have," Cashman said. "If something outside the organization presents itself and matches up well with areas that we're deep in, then I'm not afraid to make a move, either."

• Shortstop Brendan Ryan (lower back) was scheduled to take batting practice off a tee and hit in the cage Sunday before fielding grounders and going through a full workout Monday. Thomson said Ryan will "be close [to playing] within the next couple of days" after Monday's workout.

• Infielder Russ Canzler (hip stiffness) is feeling better, Thomson said, but still isn't working out on the field.