There has been some talk of Brett Gardner returning in a pinch running/defensive specialist role despite the fact that they are short of 40-man roster spots and Brian Cashman has already shot the idea down, but there is a slight hope that Gardner could return.
According to Chad Jennings of the Journal News, Gardner has begun a hitting program today. It is still doubtful that he’ll be allowed to hit this season, but it could be an indication that Gardner is well enough to play in the field without worry that he’ll have yet another setback.
The biggest obstacle to his return would not being able to play in a rehab game. Gardner had progressed nicely in a couple of comeback attempts until he played in a rehab game. So it seems unlikely that the Yankees would just allow him to come back and play without rehabbing him properly.