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Brett Gardner trying to end his slump, while A-Rod already has

New York Yankees leftfielder Brett Gardner walks to

New York Yankees leftfielder Brett Gardner walks to the dugout after he strikes out to end the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2015. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Alex Rodriguez said his slump is over. Brett Gardner is trying to end his struggles at the plate. And the answer to Nathan Eovaldi's recent issues were answered when the Yankees issued a statement Monday night saying the righthander had been shut down with inflammation in his elbow.

And the Yankees are just a half-game behind the Blue Jays entering Tuesday night's game against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

Gardner hopes to put an end to his prolonged slump -- essentially three months -- when he returns to the lineup after a day off Monday.

Gardner is ailing, and Joe Girardi gave this diagnosis of the Yankees outfielder: "He's beat up, but besides that he's OK," the manager said with a chuckle.

Girardi later turned more serious when discussing Gardner.

"He's a base stealer, head-first slides, there's diving back into first. Sometimes, it can be one dive, you know, that hurts you a little bit and it takes time to recover. It's probably a little bit of everything for him. Just because of the way he plays."

Gardner does not like to discuss injuries, though he did admit he has been icing his right wrist, the same one hit by a pitch in April. "The wrist is good, I still ice it from time to time but yeah, its good," he said Monday.

Asked about Girardi's characterization that he's banged up, Gardner said, "Yeah, maybe a little bit...A couple of different things, I'd rather not get into. It's good to have a day off. Hopefully I'll be back [Tuesday]. I should be good to go."

Gardner is 3-for-21 and is hitting .143 in September. He hit .208 in August and .247 in July. In June, though, he batted .351. That month earned him a roster spot on the All-Star team for the American League. He was named as a replacement for inured Royals player Alex Gordon.

"For sure, I'm definitely not happy about the second half that I've had or the last however many weeks or months I've had," Gardner said. "I've definitely been struggling. It's been hard for me to maintain any consistency on a good note so, hopefully that starts soon. Hopefully I'm able to do it in September and come through at the right time. Just been inconsistent. Just haven't really done a good job of getting on base, been striking out too much obviously. Taking pitches when I should be swinging and swinging at pitches when I should be taking."

Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury haven't been consistent table setters and in their absence the long ball has become the primary offensive weapon.

Rodriguez has three home runs in the first six games of September. He hit only two in August while batting .153 for the month. He has 29 this season and 683 in his career. That leaves him 31 behind Babe Ruth (714), who is third on the all-time list.

"I've said all along the best part of playing 20 years is it gives you perspective," Rodriguez said late Monday in an e-mail to Newsday through his publicist. "I don't get too down during the slumps and I don't get over-excited when I'm hitting well. It felt good out there and I think we're going to have a lot of exciting baseball coming up."

The starting rotation took a big hit with the loss of Eovaldi, the staff leader with a 14-3 record. After shutting out the Astros for eight innings on Aug. 24, Eovaldi gave up five runs in five innings to the Braves six days later. In his last start, he walked four in 5 1/3 innings and lost a 3-2 decision to the Rays.

Given that Eovaldi will not throw until at least the week of Sept. 21 -- when the Yankees play a three-game series in Toronto -- the best case scenario would appear to have Eovaldi returning for perhaps one start before the end of the regular season.

The rotation has been subject to question marks all season. Masahiro Tanaka, Tuesday's starter, has fended off injuries. Michael Pineda was on the disabled list with a forearm strain. Ivan Nova is back from Tommy John surgery. CC Sabathia is scheduled to return Wednesday after being on the disabled list with right knee inflammation. Only rookie Luis Severino has thus far been injury free.

If the Yankees need another starter, they could elect to go to Bryan Mitchell, who appears recovered from the slight nasal fracture he sustained when being hit in the on a line drive from the Twins' Eduardo Nunez August 17. Adam Warren also could be in the mix.

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