KANSAS CITY -- Royals center fielder Rick Ankiel is expected to rejoin the team Thursday in New York.
Ankiel was placed on the disabled list May 4 with a right quad strain, and he has had two rehab stints at Triple-A Omaha since.
With starting pitcher Anthony Lerew going down with an injury Tuesday, Royals manager Ned Yost said the team might send Lerew to the DL to make room for Ankiel, and then bring up another pitcher Sunday for Lerew's start.
"My thinking right now is that Ankiel is due to come back here very soon," Yost said. "If we have to DL [Lerew], then we'll put Ankiel in his spot, and then on Sunday, we'll have to make a decision and make a roster move to bring up another pitcher."
Ankiel is expected to play center field, shifting David DeJesus back to right field. Through 17 games in Omaha, Ankiel is hitting .270 with four homers and nine RBIs.
After signing a one-year, $2.25 million deal with a $3.75 million option for 2011 to the be the Royals' everyday center fielder, Ankiel appeared in 19 games before sustaining his injury, hitting .210 with three homers and nine RBIs.