from Newsday’s loveliest couple, Ken Davidoff and Jon Heyman.

The Yankees are expected to make a push in the next couple of days to sign Eric Milton, and the lefthander has allowed the Yankees to examine his surgically repaired left knee. So continues the path that very likely will reunite him with his original team in a three-year deal worth about $25 million.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the Yankees are preparing to extend an offer to Milton, 29, whom they traded to Minnesota in February 1998 as part of the package for Chuck Knoblauch. Milton was the Yankees’ first-round pick in the 1996 draft.

Milton, who lives in Fort Myers, Fla., drove two hours up the Gulf Coast to Tampa on Wednesday to undergo an X-ray of his left knee by the Yankees’ doctors. He missed nearly all of the 2003 season while with the Twins after tearing cartilage in the knee, but he went 14-6 for the Phillies last season.

The Yankees also are negotiating with free-agent starters Jon Lieber, Carl Pavano, Brad Radke and Jaret Wright, as well as Orlando Hernandez, whom they regard as more of a “sixth” starting pitcher. They remain interested in Al Leiter if the Mets’ longtime lefthander doesn’t sign with Florida.

Kevin Brown is a starter the Yankees want to move, and the Phillies expressed interest in him during the general managers’ meetings. But the Yankees currently believe Brown won’t waive his no-trade clause to go to Philadelphia.