TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi may not be prepared to consider it yet, but there is a chance that he will be scribbling Cody Ransom's name into his club's Opening Day lineup instead of Alex Rodriguez's.

Certainly, the Yankees would prefer to have their superstar third baseman ready and available to play come Opening Day on April 6, the torn labrum in his right hip carefully coached onto the field. But should that not occur, Ransom is the front-runner to help New York patch its lineup.

"Cody is a professional player," Girardi said on Thursday. "He has experience all over the infield, he has pop in his bat. Cody is one of those guys that gets dirty all the time and plays extremely hard. He has a great attitude."

Ransom, 33, hit .302 with four home runs and eight RBIs in 33 games for the Yankees last season as a utility man, including three starts at third base. Ransom said that while Rodriguez's injury may be opening up a starting job, it would not alter his mind-set.

"I'm not going to change the way I approach the spring or getting ready for the season," Ransom said. "I've got to go about my business the way I would, whether I was trying to get ready to be a utility guy or a third baseman. You hate to have something happen, especially to a guy who is such a big part of the team."

Ransom has logged 183 big league at-bats with three organizations, signing with the Yankees in November 2007 and earning a promotion to New York last August. He is 2-for-12 with an RBI this Grapefruit League season.

In the event of an extended A-Rod absence, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that the club is considering its contingency plans from within. That likely boils down to Ransom and 30-year-old infielder Angel Berroa, a former American League Rookie of the Year who is attending Yankees camp as a non-roster invitee.

"Right now, that's probably what we'd have to think about," Girardi said. "There's a lot that can change in the next four or five weeks, but Cody has a lot of experience playing on that side of the infield. He's shown that he's got pop in his bat. He's a very good defender. We'll have to wait and see."

Ransom said that should his opportunity come to pass, he does not have any illusions about single-handedly replacing the production of Rodriguez, a three-time AL Most Valuable Player. But he can be part of a puzzle that helps to fill the void.

"As a team, we can pick up the slack a little bit," Ransom said. "Everybody is in Spring Training, going about their business the way that they would had he not been injured.

"I know personally, I'm going about it the same way, trying to get ready for Opening Day and hopefully be on the team, and see where it goes from there."