WASHINGTON -- Robinson Cano was out of the Yankees' lineup on Friday for the first time this season, and manager Joe Girardi explained that it was a "preemptive" move to avoid burning out his second baseman.

Cano said that he told Girardi he was prepared to play and that the benching had nothing to do with his left ankle, which had been spiked on a play at second base on Wednesday against the Braves in Atlanta.

"I was surprised, but he's the manager and he's the one that decides," Cano said. "Obviously things happen for a reason. He said, 'Be ready any time.'"

Cano had started all 62 of New York's previous games this season, with two dates serving as the club's designated hitter.


Jayson Nix, who was 3-for-7 lifetime with a home run against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, made the start at second base in Cano's place. Cano had been hitless in nine at-bats against Gonzalez.

"We're going to have this stretch of games, then we've got 13 in a row," Girardi said. "I felt if there's a time to do it, now is the time. Nixy has seen Gio, had some success off him, so I figured it works out OK."

A-Rod continues climb up career RBI list

WASHINGTON -- Alex Rodriguez's run-scoring single in the third inning on Friday accounted for the the 1,924th RBI of his career to tie Jimmie Foxx for sixth place all-time in Major League history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Rodriguez stroked a ground ball through the right side of the infield while facing Nationals hurler Gio Gonzalez, giving the Yankees a 1-0 lead as they played the franchise's first game at Nationals Park.

Due to discrepancies in historical stats, some numbers may differ according to the source. Elias is the official statistician of Major League Baseball and credits Foxx with 1,924 RBIs.

Other historical sources believe Foxx -- who played 20 seasons during a Hall of Fame career with the Athletics, Red Sox, Cubs and Phillies from 1925 to 1945 -- collected a total of 1,922 RBIs.

Robertson returns, Phelps sent to Minors

WASHINGTON -- The Yankees welcomed David Robertson back to the bullpen on Friday, as the right-hander was available for eighth-inning relief duty.

"It's good. We haven't had him for, it seems like, a long time," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's good to have him back. We're encouraged."

Robertson was reinstated to active duty on Thursday, as the Yankees optioned right-hander David Phelps to Class A Tampa in order to get stretched out as a starting pitcher following a stint in long relief. Girardi said that Phelps took the demotion in stride.

"He was good. He understood," Girardi said. "It's never a fun time to listen to that conversation, but this is a young man that we have high hopes for. We think he's going to be a starter for us in the future.


"Our starters have been giving us a lot of distance, so he's going to go down and start. They're building him up down in Tampa, and then he'll go to Triple-A. If we need him before that, we'll call him back."

Robertson made two appearances while on a Minor League rehab assignment for a strained left oblique, last pitching a scoreless inning with a strikeout on Tuesday. He last appeared in the Majors on May 11.

Yanks help Pettitte celebrate 40th birthday

WASHINGTON -- The Yankees had some cupcakes in the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park that could double as a birthday treat for Andy Pettitte. The bigger problem might have been rounding up 40 small candles for the celebration.

"I went out for stretch and Raul [Ibanez] said, 'How's it feel? I had a little anxiety for a couple of days,'" Pettitte said. "It's not really much different. I feel like I did yesterday, so that's a good thing."

Since Jamie Moyer is toiling in Triple-A for the Orioles, Pettitte temporarily owns the title of baseball's oldest starting pitcher. He is joined by Ibanez, who turned 40 on June 2, and 42-year-old Mariano Rivera in the Bombers' plus-40 club.

"We've got two 40-year-old guys in there now, and one on the DL," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's really pretty amazing. Time goes fast. It's hard to believe he's 40 years old. As long as he's around, I still feel young."

Pettitte said that he "definitely feels old around here" and that he is "the butt of a lot of jokes right now." But his focus is on pitching Saturday, when he'll have to contend with a Nationals lineup that should include 19-year-old phenom Bryce Harper.

"Especially when I've got a kid that in three or four months is going to be 18, that's definitely strange," Pettitte said. "You've got to go to the scouting reports and try to figure out how to get the kid out. I'll be out there grinding."

Bombers bits

• The Yankees welcomed back former head athletic trainer Gene Monahan for the weekend, strapping on his scissors and tape roll to perform his old duties. Monahan, who retired last year and relocated to North Carolina, was asked to return because head athletic trainer Steve Donohue is leaving the club to attend his daughter's graduation ceremonies.

• Yankees manager Joe Girardi reiterated that he believes outfielder Brett Gardner will be able to rejoin the club after the All-Star break. Gardner was seen by Dr. Timothy Kremchek on Thursday, who concurred with the Yankees' diagnosis of a right elbow strain and recommended three to four weeks of rest.


• Major League Baseball authorized a scoring change for the June 7 Yankees-Rays game, changing Drew Sutton's fourth-inning two-run double to a double with one run scored and an error for Jayson Nix. The edit deletes one earned run from CC Sabathia's line, as Sabathia now allowed five runs and one earned.


• On this date in 2011, Mark Teixeira homered from both sides of the plate in a 12-4 Yankees victory over the Rangers. It was the 11th time Teixeira had accomplished the feat, tying Eddie Murray and Chili Davis for the most such games all-time.