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Eric Chavez is thriving with heavy workload

Eric Chavez rounds the bases after hitting a

Eric Chavez rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning of a game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. (Aug. 9, 2012) Credit: Getty Images

DETROIT — The injury to Alex Rodriguez has forced Eric Chavez to play far more than Joe Girardi envisioned when the season started, but the veteran has handled it.

Both in his performance and — more significant considering his past — how he feels physically.

“I talk to him on a daily basis,” Girardi said. “[Wednesday], I thought about giving him a day off and he came in and said he was ready to go.” Chavez went 2-for-4 in Wednesday night’s 12-8 victory and matched that yesterday, giving him 14 hits in his last 30 at-bats. He has four homers and nine RBIs in that span.

Chavez started at third base Thursday afternoon and delivered an opposite-field home run off Joaquin Benoit in the eighth to provide the winning margin in the Yankees’ 4-3 win.

He had been, he said, “terrible” to that point in his career against Benoit (3-for-15, four strikeouts).

“He left a changeup up and away and I just saw it out of his hand,” said Chavez, who finished 9-for-16 with two homers and five RBIs in the four-game series, which the Yankees split.

When Chavez came to the Yankees in 2011, he had played in a total of 64 games the previous three seasons because of various injuries. Last year he got off to a good start before fracturing a bone in his left foot May 5 (while running out an RBI triple against the Tigers) and missing 71 games.

“I feel good, but I have to be cautious about wanting to go out there and play more than I can,” said Chavez, who likely will have much of the weekend off with the Blue Jays starting three lefty starters. “But I’ll do whatever he asks me to do. I’ll just go until I break if I have to.”

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