Legging out triple, Chavez breaks bone in foot
Reserve infielder will be put on disabled list before Friday's game
DETROIT -- Eric Chavez had embraced his role as a lefty pinch-hitter and reserve corner-infielder for the Yankees and, because he was finally healthy, he was producing at the plate.
Now, once again, a setback.
Chavez suffered a small fracture on the fifth metatarsal of his left foot while legging out a triple in the fourth inning of Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Tigers and will be placed on the 15-day disabled list. Chavez wasn't available for comment after the game because he took the first flight back to New York and is scheduled to visit team doctors on Friday.
"That's a big blow for us," said Alex Rodriguez, for whom Chavez was filling in at third base on Thursday. "Eric has been in great shape. He was swinging the bat extremely well from the minute he stepped here in camp, he's been working extremely hard and obviously, he provided a lot of depth for our team."
Chavez's first triple since 2007 came off Rick Porcello and tied the game at 1, but he pulled up lame to third base and, after being checked out by manager Joe Girardi and assistant athletic trainer Steve Donohue, came out of the game.
The Yankees will announce a corresponding move from Texas on Friday.
"I felt bad for him," Girardi said, "because, you know, he's been through these injuries, and as well as he's been playing, it's frustrating."
The fifth metatarsal is the long bone on the lateral part of the foot that connects to the little toe. The Yankees previously saw backup catcher Francisco Cervelli suffer a broken left foot and miss close to eight weeks.
One option to fill Chavez's spot could be Jorge Vazquez, who impressed during Spring Training and has been hitting well at Triple-A. But the right-handed hitter isn't on the Yankees' 40-man roster, so a corresponding move would have to be made if New York purchased Vazquez's contract.
A couple of corner-infield options on the 40-man roster are the switch-hitting Ramiro Pena and Brandon Laird, a right-handed hitter.
Chavez was one of the best third basemen in the league from 2001-06, winning six consecutive American League Gold Glove Awards and an AL Silver Slugger Award. But injuries limited him to just 154 games over the last four seasons and led to five operations since September 2007, including three on his shoulder and two on his back.
After signing a Minor League contract with the Yankees in February -- one that gave him $1.5 million if he made the big league roster -- Chavez was batting .290 with a .405 on-base percentage through his first 16 games, while also giving the Yankees some flexibility with Rodriguez's playing time at third base.
But the Yankees will have to do without him for a while.
"He was frustrated," Girardi said of Chavez. "As a manager, you tell him, 'You're going to be back; you're going to get through this.' But I don't know how much that means right at this moment, as you're playing well and you're doing what you love to do and you go through this."
Swing mechanics at heart of A-Rod's slump
DETROIT -- On a Thursday afternoon when he found himself out of the starting lineup, Alex Rodriguez talked about how he prefers to play through struggles in hopes of establishing some sort of rhythm at the plate.
In the fourth inning, Rodriguez got to play -- though not in a manner he would've liked. The Yankees' third baseman came in as a pinch-runner for Eric Chavez after his backup exited the Yankees' 6-3 loss with a small fracture in his left foot. Rodriguez wound up playing five innings.
Afterward, Rodriguez was more concerned about Chavez, who is headed to the disabled list. But Rodriguez could take some solace in a 2-for-2 afternoon.
"Hitting is something that I know how to do very well," said Rodriguez, who was pinch-running for the first time since 1995. "With enough at-bats, I think we're all going to be fine."
Everything was more than fine in the early part of the year, when A-Rod batted .388 with six homers during Spring Training, then started the regular season 15-for-39 with four homers before missing two games with tightness in his left oblique and lower back.
From his return on April 20 until Thursday, Rodriguez was hitting just .149 in 12 games.
"He's not swinging like he was earlier," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said after Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Tigers. "Alex will talk about how he's kind of disconnected and everything is just not right with his swing, and it seems like he's leaving his legs at times; he's not staying in his legs, and he's getting out in front a little bit."
A-Rod explained the disconnect as his lower half not being in tune with his upper half, thus causing his swing to be a little discombobulated. Girardi downplayed the chance of the recent injury affecting Rodriguez's swing, pointing to a grand slam A-Rod hit in his second game back.
But it's obvious that Rodriguez isn't the same hitter he was at the start of the year. Perhaps most telling is that he hasn't drawn a walk and had struck out 11 times in his last nine games before Thursday -- a span of 38 plate appearances.
"It's an indication that when you swing at strikes and you take your 'A' swing, more likely, you're going to have a lot of success," Rodriguez said. "And walks for me are always an important thing because it tells you how disciplined you're being."
Rodriguez argued with home-plate umpire Bill Welke after each strikeout at Comerica Park on Wednesday. He was particularly upset at himself with the last at-bat, when he went around on an outside-corner slider by Al Alburquerque in the ninth inning.
"Last night really upset me, the last at-bat, because I should've drawn a walk and I struck out," Rodriguez said. "But besides that, I think overall, I've been having better swings, more consistent swings, but the results haven't been there."
Girardi: Rest for Jeter was planned
DETROIT -- One day after removing Derek Jeter due to the shortstop's sore right hip, Yankees manager Joe Girardi kept Jeter out of the starting lineup against the Tigers on Thursday.
The series finale also saw Alex Rodriguez sit out, though he came in for Eric Chavez in the fourth inning and played the rest of the game, a 6-3 Yankees loss. But it was the earliest in a season that Rodriguez and Jeter had both been excluded from the lineup on the same day since they teamed up in 2004.
Jeter, who exited Wednesday's 4-0 loss in the eighth inning, is never happy to be out of the starting lineup, but he understands that he can't play every game and had received only one day off before Thursday. Jeter said the hip feels perfectly fine, though.
"I had zero treatment today," Jeter said. "There's no injury, like I told you yesterday."
With Jeter and Rodriguez both out of the starting lineup, Brett Gardner hit leadoff on Thursday for the first time since April 14, and Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson took the Nos. 2-5 spots, respectively. Chavez was playing third base and batting seventh before exiting, and Eduardo Nunez filled in at shortstop and hit ninth.
Girardi said he was planning to give Jeter the day off even before pulling him from Wednesday's game, and the manager sat both against Tigers righty Rick Porcello because the Rangers will tab lefty starters Matt Harrison and Derek Holland on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to open this weekend's three-game series at Arlington.
"It is a little different," Girardi said of having both Jeter and Rodriguez out. "A lot of times, you'll separate the days that you give them off, but I thought today was a good day."
Jeter received no treatment before Thursday's game, but Girardi said the shortstop did ice his right hip on Wednesday. Jeter said after the loss that his hip was barking a little bit throughout the game, though he couldn't pinpoint what caused the pain and didn't feel that it was anything he couldn't play through.
"It's really something that happens throughout the course of the year," Jeter said on Wednesday.
The 36-year-old Jeter -- batting .250 on the year -- has gotten off to a rough start this year but said he has felt better at the plate recently.
"It's always difficult not to play, but any time you're swinging, you feel like you're having good at-bats, you're swinging the bat well, you want to continue," Jeter said. "But that's not the case. We have a long way to go, though, and I'm happy with where I am."
A-Rod, meanwhile, is not.
After a scorching Spring Training and a strong start to the season, the 35-year-old Rodriguez has tapered off at the plate recently, having hit .154 (8-for-52) in his last 14 games. Girardi talked about a "disconnect" between A-Rod's lower body and upper body in his swing, a point the third baseman echoed.
Rodriguez said he'd rather play through his struggles at the plate in hopes of establishing some sort of rhythm, but his target at the start of the year was to play between 145 and 150 games in 2011 -- not 162.
"I think Joe is going to be very smart about my games played," Rodriguez said. "I remember I had a day off earlier this year, when I was swinging the bat really well, and it's just part of it. The target is 145-150, regardless of whether I'm swinging the bat [well]. I think those days are going to come."
Yankee Stadium to host Army-Rutgers
DETROIT -- Yankee Stadium will host its first college football game of 2011 on Saturday, Nov. 12, between Army and Rutgers, the Yankees announced on Thursday.
Tickets for the game -- which will air on CBS and is slated to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET -- will go on sale June 23 on yankees.com/football and pinstripebowl.com. Special ticket packages will be available to Army and Rutgers season-ticket holders.
This will be Army's second game at Yankee Stadium, after playing in the inaugural football game on Nov. 20 of last season against Notre Dame - a 27-3 loss in the 50th meeting between the two programs.
Army played 38 times at the original Yankee Stadium, going a combined 14-19-5 beginning in 1925. For Rutgers, it'll be their first trip back since 1948.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.