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8/7/2014 1:55 P.M. ET

Headley's defense proving better than advertised

NEW YORK -- The Yankees were well aware of certain defensive statistics that raved about Chase Headley's defense, but in advance of last month's trade with the Padres, the internal reports that crossed general manager Brian Cashman's desk classified the third baseman as only "average" at the position.

Through 15 games with the Yankees, the former National League Gold Glove Award winner has shown himself to be much more than that. Headley has been a stabilizing presence at the hot corner, representing a noticeable upgrade over the defense the Yankees were getting from Yangervis Solarte and Kelly Johnson earlier in the year.

"He's played extremely well for us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously, we didn't get to see him play every day, and sometimes you appreciate a person a lot more when you get a chance to see them every day."

According to Fangraphs.com, Headley ranks fourth among Major League third basemen with 13 defensive runs saved this season, trailing the A's Josh Donaldson (16), the Rockies' Nolan Arenado (15) and the Mets' David Wright (13). Headley is also calculated to have a very sharp 17.3 UZR/150.

In announcing the trade, Cashman obliquely referenced those numbers, but he also said that the Yanks' scouts who watched Headley in person did not necessarily agree with the calculations.

"I think there's some confusion on the metrics about what he really is," Cashman said then. "Our scouts have him as an average third baseman."

With Mark Teixeira out of the lineup on Thursday, Girardi used Headley at first base.

Preparing for the possibility that he could see time on the other side of the diamond, Headley ordered his own first baseman's glove and received it Thursday morning. But the bulk of Headley's time will be seen at third base.

"He has played an outstanding third base; he has an outstanding pair of hands over there, and he's shown the ability to make a lot of tough plays," Girardi said.

Tanaka continues rehab by throwing in outfield

NEW YORK -- Masahiro Tanaka played catch again on Thursday at Yankee Stadium, tossing in the outfield at distances of 60 and 90 feet.

The right-hander, who is hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery by rehabbing a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament, will stay with the team through this part of his rehab. The Yankees are aiming for Tanaka to make a September return to the big league rotation.

Manager Joe Girardi said that Tanaka is scheduled to travel to Baltimore with the team next week, where he will continue his throwing program.

Girardi said that Tanaka's next step would be to increase his throwing distance to 120 feet. Bullpen sessions and Minor League rehab games would follow if Tanaka has no further issues.

"Hopefully, there's a point where we have to send him on rehab starts, but right now he's going to stay with us," Girardi said.

Teixeira puts spotlight on collision rule at plate

NEW YORK -- As Mark Teixeira said on Wednesday, there is still some confusion around the league about Rule 7.13, commonly referred to as the "home-plate collision rule," but Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes that the change has been positive for baseball.

Teixeira sliced the pinkie finger of his left hand scoring the Yankees' fifth run in Wednesday's 5-1 victory over the Tigers. The cut required three stitches, and Teixeira contended after the game that catcher Bryan Holaday had not given him a proper path to home plate.

"There was only a little bit of plate available," Teixeira said. "I thought we had rules about that, but that's a different story. I slid and just got my hand in there, and his foot was right on top of the plate."

Girardi said that he reviewed the play and did not see Holaday to be in violation of the rule, which was announced in February and is intended to increase player safety by eliminating "egregious" collisions at home plate.

"I've said all along that I think it's probably been the most confusing change that we've had," Girardi said. "I think for the most part it has worked, because catchers aren't getting run over, which I think is a good thing. But I think sometimes players are a little bit confused.

"In watching the play, [Holaday] was not blocking the plate without the baseball. And then he caught it and stepped in, and that's what catchers are allowed to do. When you do that, you're allowed to run them over. But a lot of times things happen so fast, you're not sure what happened as a player."

The Yankees addressed their players in Spring Training about the rule change, and part of the conversation was reminding them that contact is still permitted between baserunners and catchers.

"We basically told them, 'If they're blocking the plate, you can run them over,'" Girardi said. "That really hasn't changed for baserunners. You don't want guys really to go out of their way to get someone if they don't have to. You'd rather them slide, because whenever you run someone over, you take the chance of getting hurt, too."

Bomber bits

• Teixeira was not expected to be available on Thursday because of the laceration on his left pinkie finger. Girardi said that Teixeira will be reevaluated "day by day," but he could not offer a time frame for the slugger's return to the lineup.

• On this date in 1962, Tony Kubek returned from military service and hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat, leading the Yankees to a 14-1 win over the Twins.

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