7/24/2013 1:25 A.M. ET
Girardi patient as Hafner fights through slump
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- Travis Hafner was disappointed when he reported to Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday and did not see his name in the starting lineup, but the Yankees designated hitter also couldn't argue much with the decision.
"You want to play every day, but you can understand it at the same time," Hafner said. "Obviously, if I'm playing well, I would be in there more often."
Vernon Wells slotted in as the Yankees' DH against right-hander Alexi Ogando on Tuesday, replacing Hafner, who entered the game hitless in his last 13 at-bats and has just two hits in his last 25 at-bats. Hafner grounded out sharply as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 5-4 win.
The slump is not a new development for Hafner, who has struggled mightily since a solid April debut in pinstripes. Hafner entered Tuesday with a .172 average, six homers, 20 RBIs, a .256 on-base percentage and a .296 slugging percentage since May 1.
"I don't really see a lot that's different in his setup or his swing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's not being productive is what I see. It's frustrating for him, it's frustrating for us, because we believe that he can hit and we believe he's much better than what he's shown these past few months."
Hafner was signed to a one-year, $2 million contract by the Yankees in February, essentially as a replacement for Raul Ibanez, as general manager Brian Cashman referred to both players as "big, hairy monsters."
But Hafner has been unable to approach the impact that Ibanez had for the Yankees last season, as well as the 24 homers that Ibanez has slugged for the Mariners this year. Hafner is batting .209 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs in 79 games.
"It's been really frustrating," Hafner said. "This is a great situation for me here, and [Yankee Stadium] is a good ballpark for me to hit in. I feel like I can go out there and play at a high level and play like I did the first month. There's no reason why I can't do that. It's been extremely frustrating."
Hafner said that his right shoulder, on which he underwent an MRI exam and cortisone injection in May, has not been an issue. His problems have been more related to timing and feel at the plate.
Asked how much longer the Yankees could stick with Hafner, Girardi replied, "I guess you could go the rest of the season, right?"
"This game's tough. Hitting is tough. It's kept us all up at some point in our careers at night because it's difficult. I'm not giving up on him. He's not in the lineup today, but that doesn't mean that I'm giving up on him. We know that we need him to produce, and somehow, we have to find a way to get it done."
Yankees lose Cruz to disabled list
ARLINGTON -- The Yankees' flooded disabled list has taken on yet another member.
Infielder Luis Cruz was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right knee sprain, and the Yankees have recalled infielder David Adams from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Cruz hurt his knee tumbling into left field during Monday's 3-0 loss to the Rangers, snaring Mitch Moreland's third-inning flare and kicking up a large divot of grass in the process. He left Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday wearing a heavy brace on the leg under his jeans.
"On the play yesterday, I dove and the spike got stuck in the grass, and my knee went [the opposite] way," Cruz said after Tuesday's 5-4 win. "It hurts really bad. I don't know what it's going to say, but I'm getting an MRI when we get back to New York. Hopefully everything's good."
Cruz finished the game but was unavailable to play on Tuesday. Girardi said that he was worried immediately about Cruz, who has played 16 games with the Yankees after starting the year with the Dodgers.
"Any time you see a player go and grab the knee, you're always really concerned," Girardi said. "And it just looked bad, the way he jammed it."
The Yankees have had 16 other players on the DL this season, serving 20 stints.
Feeling no pain, Jeter sprints, takes BP
ARLINGTON -- Yankees captain Derek Jeter joined a batting practice group at Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday, his first time hitting on the field since straining his right quadriceps.
"It's the first step," Jeter said. "That's the key, is you don't want to feel it, and I don't feel it."
Jeter also ran about a half-dozen sprints in the outfield and fielded ground balls hit directly at him near the lip of the infield before Tuesday's game against the Rangers.
The 39-year-old Jeter has not yet been cleared to run the bases and said that he no longer feels discomfort in his right quad, which suffered a Grade 1 strain in his only game of the season, on July 11.
"I'm sure I'll do more [Wednesday]," Jeter said.
The shortstop hopes to come off the 15-day disabled list the first day that he is eligible, Saturday against the Rays at Yankee Stadium.
• Right-hander David Phelps made a Minor League rehabilitation start for Double-A Trenton on Tuesday, pitching in the first game of a doubleheader against Altoona. Phelps, recovering from a right forearm strain, struck out six batters and walked three over 3 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs on two hits, including a home run.
• Catcher Austin Romine returned to the Yankees' lineup on Tuesday after he was unavailable for two games due to a stiff neck. Girardi said that it was not a coincidence that Romine was again paired with right-hander Phil Hughes.
"I always felt that it was easier for me if I had the same guy a lot of times, because you have a pretty good understanding of what he likes to do in certain situations," Girardi said.
• Infielder Alberto Gonzalez has been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
• On this date in 1957, Mickey Mantle hit for the cycle in a 10-6 win over the White Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mantle became the eighth Yankees player to accomplish the feat.