KANSAS CITY -- The suddenly-wounded Yankees moved to stabilize their defense on Wednesday, recalling slick-fielding shortstop Alberto Gonzalez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and inserting him in their starting lineup against the Royals.

In a corresponding roster move, the club optioned first baseman Shelley Duncan to Triple-A. The 28-year-old Duncan, who made an immediate splash with an early barrage of home runs last season, had logged just five at-bats for the Yankees this year as a reserve first baseman and corner outfielder.

New York has had difficulty keeping its veterans on the field in recent days, as shortstop Derek Jeter mends a strained left quadriceps and Jorge Posada combats stiffness in his right shoulder.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi also revealed that corner infielder Morgan Ensberg rolled his left ankle while running the bases on Monday at Yankee Stadium, though he is listed as day-to-day and gave little indication of an injury.

Gonzalez, 24, was batting .154 (2-for-13) in five games before being lifted during Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's 1-0 loss to Louisville on Tuesday. He was given word of his promotion by manager Dave Miley.

"It was very emotional that I was going up," Gonzalez said. "I was very excited and felt very happy. I knew from watching on TV that Derek had hurt himself, but I didn't know how serious it was."

Gonzalez effectively replaces Wilson Betemit, who remains on the Yankees' roster as a reserve infielder but possesses less defensive ability than Gonzalez.

"It's a different look, a different type of player for us," Girardi said. "It's a little bit more small ball. Gonzo is a shortstop and a defensive guy."

In terms of offensive ability, Gonzalez owns little in comparison to Jeter. Acquired from the Diamondbacks in the January 2007 Randy Johnson trade, Gonzalez batted .071 (1-for-14) in 12 September games with New York.

He hit .208 (5-for-24) in 16 Spring Training games this year and did not appear to be in serious consideration to be on the team going north.

"We have a lot of good players here," Girardi said. "It's our job as a team to find a way to win, that's the bottom line. You're not always going to be healthy. You're going to be nicked up, you're going to have bad breaks, you're going to have tough scheduling. That's the game."

The Yankees do not expect Jeter to appear during their series at Kansas City, with Girardi calling Friday at Boston a best-case scenario but saying it was "too soon" to tell if that could be reality.

Jeter has been unable to perform baseball activities after leaving Monday's win in New York, spending a good deal of time in the trainer's room. He played catch before Wednesday's game.

"Your guess is as good as mine," Jeter said.