BOSTON - J.R. Murphy admitted to a case of nerves before his first major-league at-bat Sept. 2.
Needless to say, he experienced some of the same feelings after learning Saturday morning that he would make his first major-league start.
"More anxiousness,'' said the catcher, a Sept. 1 call-up who before Saturday had three at-bats spread over five games. "Because now it's my job to lock it in and get prepared for the game as far as their lineup and that sort of thing.''
Joe Girardi said he went with Murphy, 22, who went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout, because Chris Stewart is "a little beat up'' and his usual backup, Austin Romine, is unavailable after a concussion.
"Sometimes you have to do things,'' Girardi said. "He hasn't caught a whole lot of our guys, but it's just something we have to do.''
For the most part, Murphy thought he and CC Sabathia didn't have communication issues. "I felt a lot more comfortable out there than I thought because I've caught him a lot in bullpens,'' he said. "I felt we did all right today.''
Phelps returnsWith their bullpen in tatters, the Yankees activated David Phelps, who had been on the disabled list since July 5 with a right forearm strain.
"Just one of those things that lingered,'' Phelps said of an injury that originally was expected to keep him out a few weeks. "I'm excited to be here. This team's capable of doing something special and that's part of the reason I was fighting so hard to get back. It's good to be back and part of it.''
Phelps had progressed only to the point of pitching in simulated games, and Girardi said there was some concern that he is not prepared for real-game action. But these are desperate times.
"I'm not so sure we have a chance to be patient with him,'' Girardi said. "He might get thrown right into the fire.''
No rest for the weary
Because of the slew of injuries to the team, the bar has been set this low:
"He didn't tell me he couldn't play,'' Girardi said of Alex Rodriguez, in the lineup a fourth straight day at DH as he nurses a sore hamstring.
Rodriguez said after Friday night's game that he was looking forward to Monday's off day to give the hamstring a rest. He hoped to return to the field as soon as Tuesday.
Girardi said he is not tempted to sit A-Rod Sunday night to give him two straight days off.
"I would love to have him in the lineup tomorrow,'' he said. "I don't think we have the luxury of giving people two days off, but I'll see how he feels.''