6/1/2013 11:50 P.M. ET
After snapping 0-for-22 skid, Ichiro heating up
By Bryan Hoch, Josh Vitale and David Wilson / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- Earlier this season, it appeared that Ichiro Suzuki could've finally hit a wall. He was mired in a slump in mid-May when he failed to collect a hit in 22 straight at-bats from May 11-16. It wouldn't have been difficult to envision that as a new norm for the 39-year-old outfielder instead of an outlying cold streak.
Since snapping that streak with a seventh-inning single on May 16, Ichiro's heated up. He's 13 for his last 37 (.351) since that 0-for-22 stretch and has hit safely in 10 of his last 12 games.
"I almost think that, when a guy of his stature struggles like that, it's a little bit daunting because of all the success, but I just feel it's a little bit of what hitters go through," manager Joe Girardi said. "They go through streaks. It's great while you're in a good streak, and it's never any fun when you're going through a tough streak."
Ichiro went 2-for-3 in New York's win 4-1 over Boston on Friday night and tallied his first RBI since a May 10 rout of the Royals. He was starting in right field and batting eighth for the second consecutive night on Saturday after being off Thursday.
In his 13th year in the Majors, Ichiro continues to creep perilously close to some milestones -- achievements that may have suddenly seemed unreachable during that miserable 0-for-22 stretch. Ichiro reached the 150-hit plateau in each of his first 12 seasons in the big leagues, tied for third best all-time. Exactly a third of the way through this season, Ichiro sits at 44 hits -- just six off the necessary pace.
The coveted 3,000-hit milestone once again seems reachable, too. With one year remaining on his contract after this season, Ichiro sits 350 hits away from 3,000. At a 150-hit pace, it would take him one season beyond the final year of his current contract to reach it. Add in the 1,278 hits he recorded in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball and he's just 72 away from 4,000.
"He's been an impressive hitter since the time he got here," Girardi said. "I remember seeing him his first year in Spring Training, and people thought they were going to knock the bat out of his hands all the time.
"Here it is 2013 and he's 2,700-plus hits. We haven't knocked the bat out of his hand too much."
Feeling fatigued, Stewart's start behind plate cut short
NEW YORK -- In the bottom of the fourth inning of the Yankees' 11-1 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday night, catcher Chris Stewart hit a sacrifice fly to center to drive in his ballclub's only run. In the top of the fifth, Austin Romine replaced him behind the plate.
Stewart had left the game with dehydration, and manager Joe Girardi said after the game that the backstop felt lightheaded and he thought it was best to get him out of the game.
"I kind of just felt absolutely fatigued. My body was just weak," Stewart said. "I've never really had that feeling out there before. Kind of took me by surprise."
Girardi said Stewart underwent tests after the game and "checked out OK." Stewart didn't undergo any IV treatment, but he said he did drink a lot of Gatorade and water.
Stewart had started five of the past six games at catcher, and he's started 31 of the team's 55 games this year. He's batting .262 with three home runs and 11 RBIs.
"Hopefully I get a good night's sleep, get some fluids in me," Stewart said. "I'll be back tomorrow."
Youkilis will man hot corner in series finale
NEW YORK -- Kevin Youkilis was in the Yankees' lineup for the second consecutive day as a designated hitter on Saturday, and manager Joe Girardi said that his plan is to send Youkilis back to third base for Sunday's series finale against the Red Sox.
That will be a good test for Youkilis, who spent about a month on the disabled list with a lumbar spine sprain before being activated on Friday. Girardi has said several times that he considers back injuries "tricky," but he said there is no hesitation in sending Youkilis out to play defense.
"I think hitting can be just as irritating because of the rotation," Girardi said. "I think with backs, a lot of times you worry about the rotation more than anything. From my experience, I've [injured] it a lot of different ways, and in ways you don't even expect to do it, so I don't necessarily think so playing defense."
Youkilis went 1-for-4 in Friday's 4-1 win over Boston, playing his first game since April 27, but the veteran said that he was physically ready for that because he played in two Minor League rehabilitation games as well as several extended spring training contests.
"I've been playing a lot of games," Youkilis said. "We're down there playing a lot of five-inning games where you hit every inning and you're up and down for pretty much two hours straight."
• Derek Jeter played catch on the field at Yankee Stadium again on Saturday, the fourth straight day he has done so. Jeter said that he has a CT scan on his left ankle scheduled after this homestand and that he could increase his activity if the exam shows his ankle is healing as expected.
"He's upbeat all the time," Girardi said. "For a guy that's used to playing every day, his attitude has been pretty uplifting considering what he's going through. You don't see him pouting. You see him working and trying to get better -- and that's good to see."
• Alex Rodriguez (left hip) is continuing to take ground balls and batting practice in Tampa, Fla., according to Girardi, but he has not progressed to batting practice yet. Girardi said that Rodriguez has also not run the bases or had to move much for the ground balls.
• Entering play on Saturday, right-hander Shawn Kelley's 15.43 strikeouts per nine innings were the highest average of strikeouts per nine innings in the Majors this season (minimum 20 innings). Kelley has 36 strikeouts in 21 innings and has fanned 18 of his last 33 batters faced.
• On this date in 1925, Lou Gehrig began his record streak of 2,130 consecutive games played, pinch-hitting for Paul "Pee Wee" Wanninger in a 5-3 loss to Washington at Yankee Stadium.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Josh Vitale and David Wilson are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.