4/7/2013 5:56 P.M. ET
First-year Yankees not the problem early on
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
DETROIT -- If you had predicted that Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells would all be productive and the Yankees would still lose four out of their first five games, Joe Girardi said he wouldn't have believed you.
It's the reality the Yankees are trying to figure out as they prepared for Sunday's series finale against the Tigers in Detroit, but at least they have seen most of their first-year Yankees step in as a contributing force in their reassembled lineup.
Those three veterans, plus Lyle Overbay, Ben Francisco and Brennan Boesch, have combined to hit .293 (22-for-75) with 11 runs scored, four doubles, a triple, four homers and 12 RBIs in New York's five games.
"It's a team game," said Hafner, who entered play Sunday hitting .313 with a homer. "We win as a team and lose as a team. Overall I think we've swung the bats OK. We've just got to play a little bit better."
The Yankees have said that their main concern is straightening out their pitching staff after the sluggish start, and Hafner said that he does not buy into the theory that a team needs a little extra time to become accustomed to playing together.
"Baseball is a lot of individual battles. When you're up to the plate you're by yourself, and on the mound you're kind of by yourself," Hafner said.
"I can see for like double-play combinations, as far as the team jelling and stuff like that, but we've got guys who have been around a long time. It's a good clubhouse. It seems like everybody knows everybody from somewhere before."
Tigers honor Mo before finale with Yankees
DETROIT -- Mariano Rivera was honored on Sunday in the first of what will be many ceremonies around the Major Leagues recognizing his farewell season, as the Tigers paid tribute to the closer's 19-year career.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland shook hands with Rivera behind home plate and unveiled the team's gift to the retiring 43-year-old, a photo display of Rivera pitching at both Tiger Stadium and Comerica Park.
The display also included glass bottles containing dirt from the pitcher's mound at both ballparks. Rivera doffed his cap to the cheering crowd and raised both hands in appreciation, offering Leyland a hug. He called the gift "wonderful" and was told that there will surely be more to come.
"That will take a good place in my house," Rivera said. "I'll have to build an extension, I think, because definitely I don't have room for all that. Besides that, it's great. It's great to be recognized like that."
Leyland said that he was "thrilled" that Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski asked him to represent the organization on the field.
"That's quite an honor for me, to be honest with you," Leyland said. "I've gone on record, I think he's the best of all time. I'm not looking for arguments with people to compare guys. I know in my time he's been the best that I've seen. It was just an honor really to be part of it."
Rivera acknowledged that he is somewhat uncomfortable at the center of ceremonies like Sunday's, but he does appreciate the gesture.
"It's going to be fine. I'm going to enjoy," Rivera said. "It's going to be the last [season], so I'm going to respect everybody that's going to do something or try to do something. I didn't ask for anything, but I feel, if they do something, I'm going to enjoy."
As part of his farewell tour, Rivera said that he plans to greet and thank longtime fans in every city the Yankees visit this season. The first of those visits came on Saturday in a room adjacent to the visiting clubhouse at Comerica Park.
Rivera spent time with a group of three Tigers fans: Eddie Goward, a former groundskeeper at Tiger Stadium, Steven Rollins of Gaylord, Mich., a member of the U.S. Navy who has served three combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq; and John O'Neil, Sr., who was born in Detroit and has been a Tigers season ticket holder since 1991.
"Along the way, we want to do a little bit more with the people that work, the people that no one sees," Rivera said. "Those are the people that I want to reach. The fans will be there, but these are people that you never see, but they keep the place clean and do their job. Those are the ones that I want to say, 'Thank you.'"
Nunez not ready just yet to return to lineup
DETROIT -- Eduardo Nunez tried to swing a bat and throw on Sunday, but his bruised right biceps is still too tender to get back into the Yankees' lineup.
Nunez was drilled by an 88-mph Doug Fister fastball on Friday and has missed two starts, with Jayson Nix filling in at shortstop.
"He feels better, but he's just not ready to go, so we'll give it a shot again [Monday]," manager Joe Girardi said. "He tried to hit and throw today, and it's just not ready yet."
Girardi said that he does not think Nunez's injury will linger and expects to get him back in the lineup during the upcoming series against the Indians.
"I'd be surprised if he's not," Girardi said. "The [X-ray] tests came back negative, and it's muscular, so you would expect that would go away pretty quickly. And he's getting a lot of treatment."
• Hiroki Kuroda remains on track to pitch on Monday against the Indians in Cleveland. Kuroda's bruised right middle finger has not stopped him from throwing, including a bullpen session on Friday and more tossing in the outfield on Sunday.
• On this date in 1977, Reggie Jackson went 2-for-4 in his Yankees debut, a 3-0 win over the Brewers. Jim Wynn homered in his first at-bat for New York, and Jim "Catfish" Hunter fired seven scoreless innings in the season-opening victory.
• Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain has bid farewell to his bushy mustache, in response to his early-season struggles. He had been growing the facial hair since early in Spring Training, but has allowed four runs in 1 2/3 innings (21.60 ERA) and used a trimmer to buzz it off prior to Sunday's game.
• Yankees outfielder Brennan Boesch, a member of the Tigers club that went to the World Series last season, received his American League championship ring on Sunday morning in the visitors' clubhouse. Boesch said that he planned to find a spot for the keepsake, but probably wouldn't wear it.