Yankees manager Joe Girardi explained Brian McCann's absence from the starting lineup Monday night, a day after his misplayed pop-up brought in the winning run against the Cincinnati Reds, as simply a matter of getting the catcher a bit of rest.

"You can't kill him or you'll wear him out. Then he won't swing well," Girardi said.

McCann, after a dreadful start to his first Yankees season, has reached base in his last 15 starts dating to June 29. In his last 13 starts, he is hitting .352 with a home run, three doubles and five RBIs.

With Mark Teixeira unavailable Monday night because of a lower back strain, the Yankees' lineup was missing a whopping 89 RBIs -- 48 by Teixeira and 41 by McCann. Besides Teixeira, only Jacoby Ellsbury (45) had more RBIs than McCann coming in.

McCann, 30, played in 88 of the Yankees' first 97 games this season, 76 as a catcher. Besides, Girardi said, backup Francisco Cervelli and Monday night's starter, Shane Greene, "have had a good little mixture going" as batterymates.

Many starts by rookies

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The Yankees have used a rookie starting pitcher 46 times this season, double the next-highest total (Seattle Mariners, 23). The statistic is slightly skewed because of 18 starts by Masahiro Tanaka, a veteran of Nippon Professional Baseball.

Negron opts for school

Babylon's Ricky Negron, the son of Yankees executive Ray Negron and a 39th-round draft choice of the San Diego Padres in May, has opted to take a baseball scholarship at Auburn University. Negron, 19, batted .302 with a home run and 14 RBIs in 24 games as a Tallahassee Community College freshman this season.