Yankee fans all over the world have been waiting anxiously for the return of Brett Gardner from the disabled list.

Unfortunately, they will have to wait even longer for his return, as Gardner suffered a setback from his rehab assignment, according to Bryan Hoch of MLB.com, feeling pain in his elbow following a minor-league game on Friday night.

Gardner played for the Class A Charleston team last night as part of his rehab. He has been on the disabled list since the end of April with an elbow injury, and it seems his elbow is not getting any better.

Sweeney Murti of WFAN reported that Gardner will travel to see Dr. James Andrews regarding the elbow injury, which could possibly mean that, if surgery is required, Gardner’s 2012 season could be over if there is any major damage.

If there is damage done and Gardner is on the shelf for a while, the Yankees need a backup plan.

Raul Ibanez has done a fine job filling in, as has Andruw Jones, but both are older players and are not meant to be everyday outfielders anymore.

The Yankees need some help to get fresher legs in left field, and I have an idea.

Now, I know it’s going to be off-the-wall and absolutely crazy, but an idea anyway.

What about Jason Bay from the Mets?

Yes, Bay is expensive, as he is in the third of a four-year, $66 million deal he signed back in December of 2009.

Yes, Bay is currently hitting .226 with three home runs and five RBIs, which are dreadful numbers.

Yes, as a Met, Bay has been a disaster and a bust.

But if the Yankees would want to take a chance on Bay and put him in left field, they wouldn’t have to give up anything.

All they would have to do is take on a negotiated part of his remaining deal, just like the Pirates are doing with A.J. Burnett, and Bay would be all theirs.

I don’t know if it’s playing in Citi Field that has done damage to Bay as a hitter, but I think if he got out of the National League and played at a hitter-friendly park like Yankee Stadium, he could see some luck.

Plus, he would be working with Kevin Long, who works tirelessly to help struggling hitters.

When Bay played for the Boston Red Sox, he was a solid hitter, cranking 33 and 36 home runs in consecutive seasons while driving in over 100 runs as well.

Fellow Yankees Featured Columnist Peter Alfano wrote about the possibility of the Yankees looking into getting Bay back on May 4, when the Gardner injury was still new and we all thought he was coming back.

Now that Gardner may be out even longer, Bay could be an option that wouldn’t cost the Yankees any serious prospects.

If they pay part or most of the deal, a low-level prospect would be in the deal. If the Yankees took on the rest of the deal, they aren’t parting with anyone,

Given how people reacted to Alfano’s article, I expect some resistance and people to criticize, which I will understand because your gut reaction to hearing Bay’s name is a no.

But, what if Bay revives his career and plays like he did in 2008 and 2009, where he used to kill the Yankees with the Red Sox?

I think it’s worth looking into for GM Brian Cashman, and calling up Sandy Alderson to see how he feels about it.

Any other left field option will cost the Yankees prospects. Bay likely would not, which is what makes him tempting.

Cashman has less than two months to figure out left field if in fact Gardner is done for the year and beyond.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.

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