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Eric Chavez gets the 'cheap' homer he was looking for

Eric Chavez celebrates his sixth inning two-run home

Eric Chavez celebrates his sixth inning two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners with teammate Raul Ibanez. (Aug. 3, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

After Eric Chavez hit what looked like a 320-foot homer off the top of the rightfield wall in Friday's 6-3 win over Seattle, he returned to high-fives and laughter in the Yankees' dugout.

Earlier, during batting practice, Chavez had joked with Mark Teixeira about how he didn't have a "cheap Yankee Stadium home run" yet this season. After that sky-high sand-wedge shot in the sixth inning, Teixeira remembered that conversation.

"All you have to do is ask for it," Teixeira told him, smiling.

Chavez also benefited from some Jeffrey Maier-like assistance. The ball hung in the air forever and it appeared as though Eric Thames had a real chance to make the grab. But as he leaped for it, his outstretched arm seemed to be interfered with by a young fan's glove, and the ball came down on the flat top of the wall before bouncing into the seats.

Chavez became the ninth Yankee with at least 10 homers in 2012, one shy of the club record set in 1998. Derek Jeter needs two more homers to join him.

Three innings later, Chavez was replaced at third base by Jayson Nix for the ninth after feeling some discomfort in his left ankle during his at-bat in the eighth. Chavez finished that at-bat and was optimistic that it will not be an ongoing problem.

"Every once in a while, when I plant that foot, it gets painful and sore," he said. "I don't foresee it being anything serious."

Ichiro appreciates fansWith the Mariners returning to the Bronx this weekend, it was no surprise that Ichiro Suzuki's locker was a popular hangout before Friday night's game.

Ichiro already faced his former team; he was traded before the first game of last month's series in Seattle. But this line of questioning had more to do with the events since that day, most notably his treatment at the Stadium compared with Safeco Field. In that sense, he kicked his former home to the curb.

"I don't know if it was my first home run as a Yankee or my 100th home run," he said through his interpreter, "but I don't think I've ever heard that [type of] ovation from fans ever -- that big, that loud. Maybe the first time ever it was that big. I could hear my name being chanted."

Ichiro was a 10-time All-Star during his 11 seasons in Seattle, but he hasn't been missed thus far. The Mariners had won eight of 10, including the last seven, since that July 23 trade, but general manager Jack Zduriencik didn't pin that on Ichiro.

"Nah. I think we're a bunch of young kids starting to figure it out," he said. "Some of that is just so doggone coincidental."

Ichiro, who has had exactly one hit in each of his 10 games as a Yankee (10-for-40) -- he tied the record for a player beginning his Yankees career; Rey Sanchez hit safely in his first 10 games in 1997 -- said he hadn't noticed the degree of Seattle's streak.

"I know they've been winning," he said. "If there was 30 hours in a day, I could focus on that kind of stuff. But right now, I concentrate on what I need to do."

A-Rod working outAlex Rodriguez was throwing a football (but not catching it) as he continued conditioning drills despite a fractured left hand. With the hand in a splint-brace contraption, he is five weeks from returning. "He's doing as much as he can," Joe Girardi said. "Using one hand, trying to work his legs, but that's about it."

Extra basesThe Yankees have homered in 21 straight home games, the second-longest streak in club history behind the 23-game streak by the 1963 team. They are the first club to do so since the 2006 Phillies, according to Elias.

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