NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A-Rod is back, Mark Teixeira and Ivan Nova are close and Andy Pettitte is making strides.

Here comes the cavalry — and boy, do the Yankees need it.

With their once-commanding AL East lead over Baltimore whittled down to nothing, Teixeira hopes to return this weekend — perhaps Friday — against the Orioles.

“Obviously if we’re up 10 games, I’m probably going to take that extra day or two,” Teixeira said Thursday, according to the team’s official website. “When we’re fighting right now for the lead, I’m going to try to come back as quickly as possible. This is the way it is. I want to be out there really badly right now.”

Teixeira tested his strained left calf on Thursday with sprints at “close to full speed.” Yankees manager Joe Girardi described his decision to pencil in the first baseman — or keep him on the shelf — as a “balancing act.”

“It’s a matter of making what’s the best decision for him and us, moving forward,” said Girardi. “If a guy’s not ready, you put him out there and get him injured again, he’s done for the year probably.”

Also expected back this month are starters Nova and Pettitte.

The veteran Pettitte is expected to return in September, and the race is on to get him back for New York’s stretch run. Out since suffering a broken left ankle in late June, the 40-year-old took another big step this week, throwing to live batters in Tampa.

Nova (shoulder) is eligible to come off the disabled list and could rejoin the rotation as early as Friday.

“We’re considering him a rotation guy,” said Girardi, adding Nova shouldn’t have an issue delivering 80 to 90 pitches. “We don’t consider him a bullpen guy. I want to see how he feels (Friday) before we decide what’s next for him.”

With the Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays making things interesting, the Yankees will need all the help they can get.

“Every team goes through their slumps,” said Girardi. “When we went through one, I told you it probably would not be our last one. It seems like a couple months ago we were talking about how many days in a row we’d scored three or more runs. You just go through it. We’re still in first place, that’s the bottom line.”

Do you expect Teixeira to return and be a factor against Baltimore? Be heard in the comments below!

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