Notes: Betemit in first-base mix
Torre confident versatile infielder can handle new position
NEW YORK -- The Yankees plan to work newly acquired Wilson Betemit in at first base, but so far in his brief Bronx experience, he has kept busy on the left side of the infield.
Betemit, obtained from the Dodgers for reliever Scott Proctor on Tuesday, made his first Yankees start in Thursday's matinee against the White Sox, filling in for Derek Jeter at shortstop. The 25-year-old debuted in Wednesday's victory, filling in defensively for third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
"It feels good," Betemit said. "I'm surprised, because I know these guys have to play every day. Sometimes those guys don't want a day off, but that's why I'm here. Anytime they want me to play, I'll give 100 percent on the field and play hard."
The switch-hitting Betemit was batting .231 with 10 home runs and 26 RBIs in 84 games for Los Angeles before being acquired for Proctor, as the Yankees aimed to create more flexibility both on their bench and in the bullpen. Betemit arrived in New York late on Wednesday and was in uniform by the fourth inning.
Yankees manager Joe Torre said he spoke with Betemit during the game and asked if he would have any issues taking ground balls at first base, which the infielder said he would not.
Primarily a third baseman, Betemit said he has never played first base, but Torre said to expect little difficulty for Betemit in joining a mix that already includes a crowd of Andy Phillips, Miguel Cairo and eventually Jason Giambi.
"He's an infielder and he's a good infielder," Torre said. "There's no reason he shouldn't be able to do that. You know, the biggest thing at first base is all about footwork and knowing where to be on cutoffs."
The Yankees had shown interest in acquiring Betemit last season at the trade deadline from the Braves before he was shipped to Los Angeles. He had also heard similar rumors leading up to Tuesday's events, but said he paid the reports little mind.
"I heard about the Yankees, but I never thought I'd come over here this year," Betemit said. "They told me they'd wanted me for a while; last year they tried to get me from the Braves. The important thing is that I'm here right now and I'm going to try right now to help the team."
Betemit hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat as a Yankee in the second inning on Thursday.
Jeter given day off: Torre hesitated to post his lineup for Thursday's game until late in the afternoon, waiting for Jeter to arrive at the park before going through the sometimes arduous process of convincing the shortstop to take a day off.
Jeter has six hits in his last 27 at-bats and has appeared to be nursing several routine injuries and ailments, according to Torre, who recommended resting for an afternoon to be ready for the upcoming weekend series against the Royals.
Predictably, Jeter -- who is batting .330, but jammed his left shoulder on Sunday at Baltimore -- wasn't elated with the idea, but he did yield to Torre's request.
"I just told him what I wanted to do," Torre said. "I thought it was the best thing to do. He walked out of my office saying that he was benched."
Meanwhile, Jorge Posada had little interest in a day off, as Torre gave him the option for Thursday. Posada chose to catch Roger Clemens, and he likely will rest a day during the weekend Kansas City series.
'Big G' on the way: Giambi did not bat on Tuesday as his Tampa Yankees were rained out at Sarasota, Fla., but that is not expected to set the 36-year-old back as he projects to join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday.
Giambi will play first base at Triple-A to provide the Yankees with an idea of his flexibility and mobility as he returns from a torn left plantar fascia, suffered May 30 while running out a home run at Toronto's Rogers Centre. It remains possible that Giambi could join the team in Toronto next week, though Torre noted Monday would be unlikely because of the scheduled afternoon start.
"Whenever they say he's ready, we'll certainly plug him in," Torre said.
Farewell to the Captain: Tuesday marked the 28th anniversary of the tragic death of Yankees captain Thurman Munson, who was killed when his private plane crashed at Akron-Canton Regional Airport in Ohio.
The YES Network plans to air the emotional Aug. 6, 1979, game vs. Baltimore, which immediately followed Munson's funeral, on Monday at 9 p.m. ET. Bobby Murcer delivered a stirring, memorable eulogy of his close friend that afternoon and, on the flight back to New York, talked manager Billy Martin into playing him for the game at Yankee Stadium, when he drove in all five New York runs in a nationally-televised Monday Night Baseball game on ABC.
Bombers bits: The Yankees and White Sox observed a moment of remembrance for the victims of Wednesday's bridge collapse in Minneapolis, Minn. ... The Yankees have outscored their opponents by 137 runs this season, the largest run differential in the Majors, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. ... The Yankees' 58-49 represents their high-water mark of the season at nine games over .500.
Coming up: The Yankees open a three-game weekend series with the Royals on Friday, sending right-hander Chien-Ming Wang (12-5, 3.61 ERA) to the mound against left-hander Odalis Perez (6-9, 5.73). First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.