9/2/2013 8:04 P.M. ET
Murphy, Cabral achieve firsts in debuts
By Josh Vitale / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- When JR Murphy walked toward home plate for his eight-inning at-bat on Monday, the Yankee Stadium scoreboard in center field read, "Hitting for Cano."
The rookie catcher was taking his first Major League at-bat, and he was doing it in place of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano.
Murphy made the most of his opportunity, too, drilling a hard ground ball at White Sox third baseman Conor Gillaspie and beating the throw to first for his first career hit.
"I didn't see what happened. I knew I hit it hard, and I saw that he had a play on it, but then I just started running," Murphy said. "I didn't know it was a hit until [first-base coach Mick] Kelleher told me it was a hit."
Murphy said his parents, who were in the stands, had their whole section "going crazy." The Yankees saved the ball for him, and Murphy said his mom plans on framing the lineup card, which manager Joe Girardi gave to him after the game.
"I was pretty nervous," Murphy said. "They told me in the bullpen and I ran down, so the nerves started then. I was pretty much nervous all the way until I got into the box, but after I took the first pitch, I felt OK."
Another Yankees rookie also got his start on Monday as reliever Cesar Cabral made his Major League debut. Cabral pitched a scoreless eighth inning in Monday's 9-1 win over the White Sox, giving up one hit and recording his first strikeout.
It represents the end of a long road back for Cabral, who missed all of 2012 with a stress fracture in his elbow.
"It feels really, really good right now," Cabral said. "My rehab went great. Thank God for it."
Cabral said the Yankees gave him the scorecard of Monday's game, something he'll leave in his house, so he can remember what he called a "great experience."
"You get a first strikeout and then a first hit," Girardi said. "It's nice to get some kids their first taste."
Huff makes strong case for starting role
NEW YORK -- Before Monday's game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn't have any options to replace struggling starter Phil Hughes in the rotation.
He might have found one during the 9-1 victory over the White Sox.
After Hughes' day was cut short by a one-hour and 53-minute rain delay, long reliever David Huff fired 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits.
"He did a really nice job," Girardi said. "He's pitched well for us. Those were big innings for us where we didn't have to use like four or five guys in the bullpen, and that helps."
Huff has now thrown 15 innings since being called up on Aug. 15, giving up just one run on six hits and five walks.
"Sometimes with new guys, you're trying to figure out if they're going to be that consistent," catcher Austin Romine said. "And he's been nothing but consistent for us."
Girardi said he didn't have options to replace Hughes before the game because David Phelps and Michael Pineda are both hurt, but Huff gives the skipper an interesting option. The left-hander was stretched out as a starter during his time with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Huff said he's able to throw as many as 110 pitches in a game.
Hughes, meanwhile, has struggled mightily this season, losing 11 of his last 13 decisions and compiling a 6.12 ERA since the start of August. He threw just 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Monday before the rain delay.
"He had good stuff today, and I was actually excited. I firmly thought this would be where we turned it around, and he was cruising," Romine said. "And then the rain came. And that's just how it's going for him. He was really good."
Girardi said after Monday's game that he had made no changes to the team's rotation. Asked if Huff could get a start going forward, Girardi said, "We'll play it by ear."
Huff said he's comfortable both out of the bullpen and in the rotation.
"I'm just hopeful to get innings," Huff said. "We're trying to make a playoff push right now, and we're just trying to go out there and win ballgames."
Claiborne back up in up-and-down season
NEW YORK -- After getting called up and sent down five times over a 10-day period in August, Preston Claiborne looks to be back with the Yankees for good this season.
The reliever was optioned on Aug. 16 to make room for infielder Mark Reynolds, recalled on Aug. 20 to be the team's 26th man during a doubleheader against the Blue Jays and optioned again after the game. He was then called up on Aug. 22 after infielder Jayson Nix went on the disabled list with a broken hand, but he was sent down again when shortstop Derek Jeter returned from the DL on Aug. 25.
Normally, teams have to wait at least 10 days to recall a player optioned to the Minor Leagues. But because Class A Tampa's season ended on Sunday, the Yankees were able to bring Claiborne back to the Bronx on Monday.
And with the ability to have expanded rosters in September -- the Yankees currently have 31 players on the active roster, 11 of which are relievers -- there likely won't be reason to option Claiborne again.
The rookie has a 2.78 ERA and 36 strikeouts over 37 appearances this season.
• The Yankees' loss on Sunday was their first this season in a game they held a lead of at least two runs at home. They were previously 32-0 in those games.
• On this day in Yankees history, starter Mike Mussina came within one out of throwing a perfect game against the Red Sox on Sept. 2, 2001. Carl Everett broke up the perfect game with a two-out single in the ninth inning.
Josh Vitale is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.