Jeter out of lineup with bruised heel
Injury sustained Friday; Pena moves from third to shortstop
NEW YORK -- Shortstop Derek Jeter was a late scratch from the Yankees' starting lineup against the Mets on Saturday because of a bruised right heel. Jeter suffered the injury lunging for first base in Friday's 4-0 loss.
Jeter received treatment before Saturday's game, but no tests were scheduled.
Ramiro Pena, who was originally in the lineup at third base, shifted over to shortstop, with Kevin Russo taking over at the hot corner. Brett Gardner was bumped up to the leadoff spot.
After an excellent 30-game stretch from mid-May to mid-June, Jeter has cooled off a bit on this homestand for the Yankees, having collected a mere two hits in his past 21 at-bats. Not coincidentally, the Yankees' offense has struggled to score runs over that stretch.
Saturday is only the second game Jeter hasn't started this season, with the other coming against the Rangers on April 18, when he had a head cold. The shortstop has averaged 151 games per season in his 14 full seasons with the Yankees.
All-Star homecoming possible for Hughes
NEW YORK -- Phil Hughes is adamant that he hasn't been pitching his best of late. He will tell you that he's making mistakes, that he's struggling at times to put hitters away, that each game is a battle and that he's eager to have a good, easy one for once.
After the right-hander contained the Mets for seven innings during Saturday's 5-3 Yankees victory, though, it is tough to take Hughes' self-evaluation to heart, now that he is tied for the American League lead in wins and one of the prime candidates to start next month's All-Star Game at Angel Stadium, a 10-minute drive from his California home.
"I think about it," Hughes said of possibly of earning an All-Star berth for the first time in his career. "I don't bank on anything, but it would be nice."
Hughes may not bank on it, but it seems unwise to bet against him. His 10-1 mark is the best in the AL, and his 3.11 ERA is in the top 10. Not bad for the pitcher who had to win his spot in the Yankees' rotation in Spring Training.
"I don't think I've pitched well enough to have that record," said Hughes, who focused on how he's labored at times in his past three starts -- all of which, it should be noted, he won.
"Surprised I don't think is the word -- we expected Phil to have a good season but to go through some growing pains," said Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira. "We expected him to go through some ups and downs. He hasn't had them."
It would be particularly cool for Hughes to play in the All-Star Game in Anaheim, where he used to attend games as a kid, albeit as a Red Sox fan. He still has a home in Southern California.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who will pilot the AL in the Midsummer Classic, thinks that -- as of right now -- his starter has a very good case to be on the roster.
"His numbers speak for themselves," Girardi said. "Obviously, he's pitched great for us all year."
His foot better, Burnett on for Monday
NEW YORK -- Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett said he is ready to start on Monday in Arizona after his bullpen session on Saturday assuaged concerns about his right foot.
"It was a good day today," Burnett said. "I'll be ready to go Monday. Nothing hurt. It felt fine. ... It's night and day better than the last two days."
Burnett incurred the injury in the second inning of his start against the Phillies on Wednesday, when Wilson Valdez's ground ball up the middle ricocheted off the foot for an infield single. Burnett remained in the game -- Yankees trainers didn't even come out to check on him at the time -- and he said he didn't feel any pain in the foot until Thursday morning.
"The next morning, I woke up, took my first step and almost fell down," Burnett said. "So I'll never laugh at hitters again who foul a ball off their foot. It's not fun."
The foot injury was part of a rough outing for Burnett in which he allowed six runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings -- his shortest start since the last time he faced the Phillies, in Game 5 of the World Series. He has lost his past three starts.
Improving Aceves throws off half-mound
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Alfredo Aceves took another step toward returning to the Yankees' bullpen on Saturday, throwing off a half-mound before his team's afternoon matchup against the Mets.
Aceves -- on the disabled list since May 12 with a bulging disc in his back -- said that while throwing for about six minutes on Saturday, he didn't feel the same pinching in the area that had been bothering him.
"It felt good -- it's been awhile that I didn't throw," Aceves said. "I hope I pitch soon."
The next step for Aceves will be to start throwing off a regular mound, but there is no timetable for that yet. Aceves himself didn't know yet whether he would accompany the Yankees on their upcoming road trip to Arizona and Los Angeles or stay on the East Coast and possibly work out at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Aceves has been the versatile glue guy in the Yankees' bullpen, pitching in long and middle relief and even coming on to earn a save in early May against the Orioles. On the season, Aceves is 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 10 games.
Youngest Yanks versatile and valuable
NEW YORK -- The left side of the Yankees' infield looked just a little different on Saturday, with Derek Jeter out of the lineup and Alex Rodriguez serving as the designated hitter.
There, instead of two future Hall of Famers, were Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo -- two guys who have combined for one career home run.
It was the latest and perhaps most extreme example of the shuffling that manager Joe Girardi has had to do with his lineup and of the prominent roles youngsters such as Pena, Russo and Francisco Cervelli have played for the Yankees this season.
Pena made his 15th start of the season on Saturday, more than halfway to the 28 he made in 2009. Russo, meanwhile, was in the starting lineup for the 13th time this year, all of which have come in the past month.
"It's great," said Pena of the increased opportunity to play. "When you get the chance, you have to take advantage and get the job done."
Both Pena and Russo are particularly valuable because of their versatility in the field. A natural infielder, Pena spent some time in Spring Training in the outfield in case of an emergency situation -- like the one that arose against the Twins on May 16, when Girardi decided to pinch-hit for defensive replacement and last reserve outfielder Greg Golson late in the game. Pena took over in right, playing the outfield for the first time in his Major League career.
Russo has showcased a similar adaptability in the field. Like Pena, Russo spent the vast majority of his time throughout the Minors in the infield, but he learned the outfield to increase his value. That's paid off this season, during which Russo has started 10 games in left field.
"You've got to get your work in in BP," Russo said. "I've got to go from second, third, short, left, right -- all over the place. I just try to stay ready as much as possible."
Defense hasn't been the problem for either Pena or Russo, who have excelled wherever they've been slotted in the field. They've struggled more at the plate, a problem exacerbated by irregular playing time.
"The hardest part is the at-bats," Russo said. "You can get as much BP as you want, but it's really not like a game. You've just got to find things to keep you sharp."
Their low batting averages -- entering Saturday, Pena was hitting .186 and Russo .209 -- obscure some of the big hits they've had. Pena has four two-RBI games, while Russo had a big two-run double in his first career start to provide the difference in a 2-1 win over the Mets on May 21.
"Guys have definitely stepped up," Girardi said. "Pena's had big hits when he's played. He's had good at-bats. ... Kevin Russo has done a good job. Our guys have come up and filled in very nicely. A lot of times, that's how you get your shot in this game."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.