Mark Montgomery scratched from throwing batting practice because of sore back

Mark Montgomery takes part in fielding drills during Mark Montgomery takes part in fielding drills during a spring training workout at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. (Feb. 16, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Mark Montgomery was a late scratch from his scheduled live batting practice session Sunday morning, but the rapidly rising pitching prospect said it's nothing serious.

"Just a little bit sore," the 22-year-old righthander said of his back. "I'll be back tomorrow."

Montgomery rose quickly in the organization last season, going 4-1 with a 1.34 ERA and 14 saves in 31 games in advanced Class A Tampa before earning a promotion to Double-A Trenton, where he went 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 15 games.

If there's one prevailing belief among Yankees talent evaluators, it's "he can help us this year."

Known for a devastating slider that has drawn praise from talent evaluators inside and outside the organization, Montgomery continued his success in the Arizona Fall League. The club's 11th-round pick in 2011 out of Longwood University in Farmville, Va., struck out 19 in 101/3 innings, walking just five.

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Joe on Hafner: 'He's a DH'

Don't expect Travis Hafner, signed to be the primary designated hitter against righties, to play the field, even in an emergency. The 35-year-old hasn't used his glove since 2007.

Hafner, with a smile, said he hasn't thrown much "over the last five years or so" and hasn't taken grounders "in a couple of years."

Joe Girardi, asked several ways about the emergency situation that might put Hafner on the field, said simply: "He's a DH."

Adams banged up

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David Adams, the club's top infield prospect, will be out at least "a couple of weeks" with a sore back, Girardi said.

Adams, 25, is expected to compete with Jayson Nix, Dan Johnson and prospect Corban Joseph for a backup infield spot. Eduardo Nuñez also is in that group, though Girardi said that as of now, Nuñez is being looked at solely as a backup shortstop. The team theorized last year that Nuñez's oft-discussed fielding issues came from struggling to master more than one position.

Stick with what works

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Since hitting .292 in his first season with the Yankees, Mark Teixeira has hit .256, .248 and .251, though still putting up the power numbers most important to him. While acknowledging he'd like to raise his average, Teixeira said he won't repeat the mistake of last season, when he tried too hard to change his approach at the plate.

"There's really no reason for me, at this point in my career, to try and start doing things differently," Teixeira said. "Now, that being said, I want to be the best at what I do well, and that's hitting home runs and driving in runs and playing Gold Glove defense. I know if I do those three things, I'm going to help my team win . . . But I'm not going to change my entire game plan and change my entire approach just to try and get a few points on my average if the home runs and RBI suffer because of that."

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