CHICAGO - CHICAGO - Shelley Duncan said his call back to the big leagues was "a really pleasant shock," a call he wasn't sure would ever come again.
Duncan exchanged hugs with various players, including Brian Bruney and Mark Melancon, in the clubhouse before Friday night's game after being called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to give the Yankees outfield depth and another righthanded bat.
Duncan, 29, was hitting .268 - but with a .363 on-base percentage - and was leading the International League in home runs (25) and RBIs (75) in 90 games.
Duncan was a minor sensation in 2007 when he hit three home runs in his first three major-league games. But the good times didn't last as the difficulties of making it in the majors set in, and the rest of that season was a struggle. A shoulder injury limited him to 83 games - 23 with the Yankees - all of 2008, and on Jan. 6 of this year, he was designated for assignment. He returned to the Yankees when no one claimed him.
"It took a lot of hard work physically and mentally to get back up here," Duncan said.
The 6-5, 225-pound Duncan hit well from the start this season, but when a promotion to New York didn't come, he said there was some frustration. When asked if he had resigned himself to thinking it wasn't going to happen, he said, "I would be lying to you if I said no."
The energetic Duncan's smile rarely disappeared as he talked to reporters. "It's very pleasantly surprising,'' he said, "but I'm very happy and it kind of just lights me up inside."
Alfredo Aceves, who hadn't pitched since last Saturday because of right shoulder "fatigue," allowed four runs in 12/3 innings to turn a 6-5 game into a 10-5 game . . . The Yankees will have to make another roster move Saturday with the arrival of Jerry Hairston Jr. Because of his versatility, signs point toward another utilityman on the roster, Cody Ransom, getting sent down, though Girardi didn't say. "We'll make that decision tonight,'' he said Friday, "and sometime tomorrow morning we'll have a move."