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7/23/2014 1:10 A.M. ET

Gardner earns hustle honor for third time

NEW YORK -- For the second time in as many years, the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association named Brett Gardner the Yankees' Heart and Hustle Award winner.

The award, given to one member from each team, honors active players who demonstrate a passion for baseball and "best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game." The only award voted on by former players, it has been given annually since 2005.

"It's something you can control," said Gardner, who also won the award in 2010 and '13. "So many parts of the game are out of your control. That's one thing you can control, is the way you play and the effort that you give. It's probably one of the reasons I was able to not only make it here, but stay here for a little while.

"Obviously, I take a lot of pride in trying to play the game hard and play the game the right way. My dad always told me that: 'Play every game like it's going to be your last. You never know when it could be taken from you, and just have fun.'"

Each team's winners will be recognized prior to an upcoming home game. As the season draws to a close, fans, alumni and active players will vote to select the final winner from the 30 team winners, which will be announced on Nov. 18 at the 15th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in New York City.

Previous winners include David Eckstein (2005), Craig Biggio ('06, '07), Grady Sizemore ('08), Albert Pujols ('09), Roy Halladay ('10), Torii Hunter ('11), Mike Trout ('12) and Dustin Pedroia ('13).

Gardner entered Tuesday hitting .274 with nine home runs, 40 RBIs, six triples and 16 stolen bases. But his consistent durability -- he's played in 95 games -- is even more impressive.

"I think everybody -- if they're going through a slump or personally struggling, or if the team's struggling -- some guys get down," Gardner said. "But that's what your teammates are for. You keep each other motivated and you push each other. You're running out there with them every night, so you want to play hard for them."

Amid moves, Yanks continue to seek upgrades

NEW YORK -- The Yankees now have Brandon McCarthy and Chase Headley as tangible proof of general manager Brian Cashman's many hours of July negotiating, but with the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaching, they would like to cross the finish line on more deals.

"We just keep trying to find different ways to upgrade, and these are the ones I have to show for those results," Cashman said. "We're hoping that we can get a jolt from every single addition that we bring in here. We're going to keep mixing and matching, but we'll see. We're open to anything."

Cashman has said that acquiring starting pitching is his priority, but he revealed that he had been talking to the Padres about acquiring Headley for three weeks; the McCarthy trade with the D-backs, for lefty Vidal Nuno, took more than 1 1/2 months to pull down.

"That's the one thing that I can tell you, probably on behalf of the 29 other clubs: It's just not easy getting through and finding common ground," Cashman said.

The Yankees are known to have scouted Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who struggled on Monday against the Giants in his return from the disabled list. They have also checked in on left-hander John Danks of the White Sox, according to CBS Sports. Those talks are said to be in the "early stages," according to the report.

"I have more work to do," Cashman said. "I'm going to still continue to try to improve on what we have. I feel like I've got more work to do."

That work would come at a price, depending on the target. To complete the trade for Headley, New York had to part with infielder Yangervis Solarte and right-hander Rafael De Paula, who ranked as the 15th-best prospect in the Yankees' system.

Thus far, Cashman has resisted dealing coveted prospects like right-hander Luis Severino, catcher Gary Sanchez and outfielder Aaron Judge, though he said that the Yanks' farm system has drawn attention from rival GMs.

"We've got high-end stuff, without a doubt -- players that other teams like," Cashman said. "And those players would be available, or will be available, in the right circumstances."

Making start in right, Johnson injures groin

NEW YORK -- The Yankees removed Kelly Johnson from right field before the 11th inning of Tuesday's 2-1 win over the Rangers due to a groin injury.

Johnson told manager Joe Girardi and head athletic trainer Steve Donohue that he injured himself while running to first base on a groundout to second base in the 10th inning. Johnson was replaced by Ichiro Suzuki.

"He thought it might have been a cramp," Girardi said. "We sent him for an MRI to find out what was going on."

With Chase Headley now on the Yankees' active roster, Girardi said before the game that he might play Johnson occasionally in right field, where Johnson made his first career start on Tuesday.

"He's played mostly left field, but I think he's athletic enough that it shouldn't be a problem," Girardi said. "I might have to do it if we can't get Carlos [Beltran] out there, because I can't run these guys out there every day."

Suzuki has been the Yanks' regular right fielder since Beltran was limited to designated-hitter duties in the middle of May because of a bone spur in his right elbow.

The Yankees have also used Zelous Wheeler in right field, but Girardi said the team would like to have the option of using Beltran defensively; the veteran resumed playing catch on Monday.

"I think he'll probably play [catch] two days in a row and take a day off," Girardi said of Beltran. "We'll try to get him out there."

Bombers bits

• Cashman termed his concern for first baseman Mark Teixeira as being "low level." Teixeira is not expected to play until at least Thursday due to a left lat strain.

"The only concern is that we don't have him available for the short term, and that's not optimal," Cashman said. "He gives us a different lineup."

• On this date in 1958, the Yankees recorded 23 hits in a 13-3 win over the Tigers at Briggs Stadium. The contest was the opener of a three-game series that saw New York hit .415 with nine home runs, with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra combining to go 14-for-21 with three homers and 11 RBIs.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Jake Kring-Schreifels is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.