KANSAS CITY -- Mariano Rivera jogged out to the spot where his career could have ended 12 months ago, looked down and smiled.
A prankster from the Yankees' clubhouse had painted a white chalk outline of Rivera's body on the warning track, while a banner adorned with stop signs and yellow caution tape fluttered from the outfield wall reading: "No Mo Zone."
"The guys put a little effort into that sign. It had paint and tape and a little bit of everything," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We even had to hold him in here a little bit while they put it up."
Rivera posed in front of the wall for a photo, grabbing his right knee in mock pain, and couldn't have been surprised.
In Denver on Thursday, Rivera said that he expected to hear some good-natured ribbing from his teammates as he returned to Kauffman Stadium, the Yanks' first trip back since Rivera tore his right ACL before a May 3, 2012, game against the Royals.
"The only thing that will come back to me is just knowing that I got hurt there," Rivera said. "But I mean, I will enjoy it definitely because that moment and seeing where I am right now, that's what is gratifying. I'm thanking the Lord for me being here."
Yankees bullpen coach Mike Harkey, who was one of the first on the scene when Rivera crumpled in pursuit of a Jayson Nix fly ball on that afternoon last May, is believed to have been one of the leading pranksters to dress up the left-center-field area on Friday.
The adornments were removed by the time the Yankees' batting practice session concluded, and after the Yanks' 11-6 victory over the Royals, the banner -- caution tape and all -- was folded neatly into the locker next to Rivera's in the visiting clubhouse.
"I'm going to put it right in front of my home," Rivera cracked.
Cano gets a kick out of prank after 1,500th hit
KANSAS CITY -- Robinson Cano howled with laughter as he read the inscription on the baseball he was given on Thursday in Denver, descending the clubhouse steps after realizing he was the victim of a dugout prank.
Cano logged his 1,500th career hit in the Yankees' 3-1 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on a ground ball to second baseman Josh Rutledge.
The ball was taken out of play and secured by the Yanks, but not before the coaching staff urged head athletic trainer Steve Donohue to have some fun with a phony memento, with manager Joe Girardi and bench coach Tony Pena watching closely while Cano read the ball.
"It said, '1,500-hopper through the infield,'" Cano said with a grin. "That was funny. I was laughing and then he gave me the real one."
Donohue performs all of the inscriptions on the Yanks' milestone balls, having inherited those duties from longtime head athletic trainer Gene Monahan. Cano said that he kept the actual 1,500-hit ball, but he may have actually appreciated the fake one more.
"That was funny. It's good," Cano said. "That's the kind of thing that you need sometimes."
Cano also said that, contrary to a New York Post report, he did not have X-rays on his right foot after Thursday's game. Cano did say he had X-rays on his right big toe after fouling a ball off his foot against the Athletics back at Yankee Stadium.
Girardi may consider pitching CC in Monday's twin bill
KANSAS CITY -- After a conversation with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, manager Joe Girardi said that he is entertaining the idea of having CC Sabathia start one of Monday's doubleheader games in Cleveland.
Sabathia threw just 51 pitches over four innings before being knocked out by a rain delay in Thursday's 3-1 win over the Rockies at Coors Field. Girardi initially ruled out using Sabathia in Cleveland but backed off that assessment on Friday.
"That would not be what I would want to do, but you never know what will happen this weekend and what we will need," Girardi said. "I can't say I'll do it, but a lot of it has to do with what we have to do this weekend."
Girardi also floated Ivan Nova's name as a possible starter for Monday, and Adam Warren is also a candidate. David Phelps is scheduled to pitch one of the two games, but Girardi said he hasn't decided which.
• Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez (sore left rib cage) swung in the batting cages on Friday and is hopeful that he will be able to play in Saturday's game against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
• Yankees right-hander Joba Chamberlain (strained right oblique) threw a 27-pitch bullpen session on Friday and is scheduled to throw another one on Sunday. If that goes well, he could be sent on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, Girardi said.
• Infielder Kevin Youkilis (lumbar spine sprain) has advanced to rotational exercises at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., according to Girardi, who said that Youkilis is "going in the right direction."