Girardi gives A-Rod first day as DH
Move helps Yankees manager keep lineup fresh
ANAHEIM -- The dugout runway at Angel Stadium is a little bit too long for Alex Rodriguez to keep running to the video room, so he planned to spend most of Saturday afternoon sitting on the bench.
But A-Rod will have four or five at-bats to look forward to as he logs his first designated-hitter day of the schedule, and as manager Joe Girardi tries to keep his lineup fresh, Rodriguez would certainly prefer that to not playing at all.
"I hate days off. I absolutely hate them," Rodriguez said. "We get enough days off with the schedule. I don't ever, ever, ever want a day off."
Girardi approached Rodriguez before Saturday's game and asked if he thought it might be a good time to accept a half-day. Rodriguez wasn't struggling -- he has reached base in 19 of his last 33 plate appearances and is 6-for-15 on the road trip.
"It's important for Alex to have a DH day," Girardi said. "He's swinging the bat so well right now, you hate to give him a whole day off. He's been a huge part of our lineup right now. It's easier to just give him a DH day."
Rodriguez said that he welcomed the idea, even though DHing isn't exactly a familiar task. Last season, DH days were a necessary part of Rodriguez's plan to come back from right hip surgery, but that is less of a priority now.
"It feels pretty good," Rodriguez said. "No complaints. I think overall Joe checks with me and we always communicate on that. I feel good -- there's definitely no pain."
Before Saturday, Rodriguez had played only 28 games in the role previously, batting .316 (31-for-98) with 10 home runs and 29 RBIs. All but four of those DH days came with the Yankees.
"If you DH once a month, that's probably about five or six times a year," Rodriguez said. "You take the benefits from it and go from there."
Yanks may be without Johnson until Tuesday
ANAHEIM -- Yankees designated hitter Nick Johnson was out of the lineup on Saturday with lower back stiffness, which he aggravated while taking extra batting practice before the club's series at Angel Stadium.
Johnson was seen walking around the ballpark after Friday's 6-4 loss to the Angels with a heavy pack on his lower back, and reported the issue hadn't subsided completely when he arrived Saturday.
Treatment during Saturday's game apparently did not do much to calm the issue, and manager Joe Girardi now expects that Johnson will remain sidelined until at least Tuesday at Baltimore.
"Sometimes you come in and believe if you get in the whirlpool and get a little more treatment, it's going to loosen up," Girardi said. "It doesn't and he was honest about it. He said it was stiffer."
Johnson said that he felt the stiffness during batting practice Friday but played anyway. He was in a 0-for-21 funk before singling in the fourth inning off Ervin Santana.
"I felt a little something and decided to let it calm down," Johnson said. "It didn't hinder anything, but I'm trying to be smart about it."
Johnson also had an issue with back stiffness this spring when he caught a spike on a turf mat around the batting cage. He said that this latest bout was in a different, lower spot.
Teixeira feels 'horrible' about hit on rookie
ANAHEIM -- Mark Teixeira has yet to hear back from Angels catcher Bobby Wilson, who was forced to leave his first big league start in the third inning on Friday after a bone-jarring collision at home plate.
Wilson is on the disabled list with a concussion and left ankle injury, and Teixeira said he felt "horrible" about the play with the rookie, who was a teammate of Teixeira's briefly with the Angels in 2008.
Teixeira said he tried calling the Angels clubhouse on Friday night and also sent messages to Wilson.
"I hope he's doing all right. I hope he's feeling all right," Teixeira said.
The play was a topic of discussion for Teixeira in the batting cage on Saturday morning, with former big league catcher Tony Pena remarking how it was surprising that collisions didn't take place at home plate more often.
"When he played, guys got run over every week," Teixeira said. "It's a different game now. I'm not saying guys don't play as hard, but guys don't do that as much. When it does happen, it's a big deal."
Teixeira said that one major difference might be that players in high school and college are not allowed to hit the catchers, so they are less accustomed to doing it in the pro ranks.
"Ever since it became legal for me as a professional, I was taught that if a guy is covering the plate and you slide, you might hurt yourself," Teixeira said. "You just lower your shoulder and try to knock the ball loose."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi -- who once broke his nose in a collision with John Kruk -- agreed that Major League players try to avoid collisions more than they did when he was behind the plate.
"You see guys that pull up now and get tagged out, or pull up and slide gingerly," Girardi said. "That scares me to death when you do that, because you're not accustomed to sliding gingerly. That's how you catch a spike and get hurt. There are times that you're going to have to be aggressive."
And one of those times, Girardi said, was in the third inning. Wilson was in position to block the plate and Teixeira, charging toward home, had no way of knowing that Wilson wouldn't cleanly scoop Bobby Abreu's throw from right field.
"I mean, we're playing for something," Girardi said. "This isn't the family reunion softball game. Tex is not trying to hurt him. He's trying to score a run."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.