NEW YORK -- The Yankees see Dante Bichette Jr. as a big bat in their lineup somewhere down the line. But to Joe Girardi, he's still the kid nuzzled in the car seat, the engine lulling him to sleep.
Girardi was all smiles when he learned that the Yankees selected Bichette on Monday with the 51st overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
"Our club felt he was the best available player at that spot, and I'm thrilled to death, because I've known this little guy for a long time," Girardi said.
Bichette said that he still calls Girardi his "Uncle Joe." Girardi and Dante Bichette Sr. grew close as teammates on the inaugural Colorado Rockies roster in 1993, despite their obvious differences.
"We became really close friends and we were about as opposite as you can get," Girardi said. "He was more of a free spirit, and everyone knows how I am. For whatever reason, I found it really enjoyable to be around him.
"We would work out together, and little Dante was born that first season. He was a wonderful little kid."
Girardi recalled the Bichettes staying with his family during road trips to Chicago, and getting the future Yankee draftee to bed could sometimes prove to be a handful.
"Little Dante would sometimes have a hard time getting to sleep at night," Girardi said. "We'd get in the car and drive him around. You think that this is the kid we drafted -- the kid that was trying to get to sleep in the car seat. It's a special family."
Girardi said that he knows first hand of Bichette's work ethic. The family makes consistent use of a batting cage at their Florida home.
"I've seen Junior basically working at this his whole life," Girardi said. "Dante is really committed to it."
Jeter hoping milestone comes in Bronx
NEW YORK -- Becoming the 28th player -- and the first Yankee -- to reach 3,000 hits will be a great achievement no matter where it happens for Derek Jeter, but the captain would obviously prefer that it take place at Yankee Stadium.
Thus, the time crunch for Jeter began on Tuesday, as the Yankees opened a 10-game homestand against the Red Sox, Indians and Rangers. Jeter logged two hits, both singles, and now owns 2,988 big league knocks to his name.
"There's 10 other pitchers, at least, that don't want me to do it here," Jeter said before the game. "I'll try. We'll see what happens. We have a long homestand. I'm really not focused on it as yet, because it's still a ways away.
"But I would love to do it here. Any time you get a chance to do something special here at the Stadium, you appreciate it because the atmosphere and the environment, and the Yankees fans get into it."
Jeter's first hit Tuesday came on an infield single in the second inning, as shortstop Marco Scutaro made an off-balance throw that was nevertheless immediately scored a hit. Jeter's second hit was a clean single to the outfield in the fourth.
Manager Joe Girardi said that he wants the captain to reach the plateau in pinstripes rather than road grays, but added that he won't run Jeter into the ground trying to get there.
"You'd love for him to do it here," Girardi said. "We have 10 games on this homestand, but you can't physically wear him down or risk hurting him to do it. We're going to have to be smart about how we do this. We're probably going to play it close to how we've done it all year long."
Girardi said that he decided on Jeter as Tuesday's designated hitter as the Yankees tried to load their lineup with right-handed bats against Boston lefty Jon Lester.
"I just felt it's a way to keep him fresh, coming off a long road trip in which he played every day," Girardi said.
June 16 will be Jeter's last chance to get to 3,000 before the Yankees hit the road, visiting the Cubs for three games and the Reds for three more. They'll return to New York on June 24 against the Rockies.
"I'm aware of it," Jeter said. "It's still something that can't happen today. I mean, if it does, we'll be here a long time. So there's still some time."
Posada finally finds success vs. left-hander
NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada did not even have time to think about his struggles against left-handed pitchers this season -- or his uneasiness playing first base, for that matter.
But when Mark Teixeira left in the first inning of Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Red Sox after being hit in the right knee by a Jon Lester cutter, Posada was forced to run to the clubhouse and grab his glove.
It stopped the only ball hit his way -- an Adrian Gonzalez grounder in the seventh -- while his bat lifted him to a perfect evening at the plate.
Posada went 3-for-3, including a pair of singles off the southpaw Lester, his first two hits against a left-handed pitcher after entering the game 0-for-27 on the season in such situations.
Posada added an RBI single off Jonathan Papelbon with two outs in the ninth inning, putting the Yankees in position to tie with one swing of the bat before Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the game.
"I wasn't even in the lineup, so it's one of those things," Posada said. "They throw you out there and hopefully you can produce."
Posada started at first base May 18 at Baltimore, his 16th career start at the position. Still, the former catcher and 17-year veteran admitted to being far from comfortable filling Teixeira's shoes on the diamond.
"It's a challenge," Posada said. "The ball gets hit and all you want to do is just get in front of it, to tell you the truth, get an out.
"I've been trying to make it as simple as possible. It's not easy when you don't play it often."
Posada's three-hit night Tuesday followed a 2-for-4 performance in the designated hitter role Sunday in Anaheim, lifting his batting average to .195, the highest it has been since he was hitting .222 five games into the season.
"Maybe I'll just put him in the bottom of the first every day, I don't know," manager Joe Girardi quipped. "He's had some decent at-bats off of left-handers, he has. It's just been kind of a thing I've done where I've chosen to rest Alex and rest Derek [Jeter], give them a half-day in a sense when we face left-handers. It's just kind of how it's worked out. He swung the bat real well on the road trip and I'm not surprised it carried over."
Yanks, A's team up to take down cancer
NEW YORK -- The Athletics have big plans for their next visit to the Bronx, joining with the Yankees to support a common goal.
The Strike 3 Foundation -- a charitable organization that mobilizes support, heightens awareness and raises funding for pediatric cancer research -- will hold its second annual luncheon at Yankee Stadium's "NYY Steak" on July 22 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET.
Joba Chamberlain and Eric Chavez are among the current Yankees expected to attend, while 2009 World Series Most Valuable Player Hideki Matsui will also have a seat.
Other Athletics players taking part are Brett Anderson, Andrew Bailey, Craig Breslow, Trevor Cahill, Brian Fuentes, Gio Gonzalez and Kurt Suzuki, subject to change.
"Last year's luncheon was incredibly successful," said Breslow, the founder and executive director of the Strike 3 Foundation. "Our guests were treated to an intimate afternoon with a number of recognizable players, and we are even more excited about this year's cast: All-Stars, a Rookie of the Year and a World Series MVP. Most importantly, we were able to raise significant funds for a meaningful cause."
Tickets can be purchased at www.Strike3Foundation.org.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch. Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.