FORT MYERS, Fla. - Kelly Johnson started at first base for the Yankees Saturday. But Joe Girardi indicated for the second time this week that Johnson will start the season as his everyday third baseman.
Johnson, 32, has played only 16 games at third in his career, all of them last season. He was expected to be the lefthanded half of a platoon, but Girardi has been impressed enough with his at-bats against lefties to suggest there will be no platoon, at least initially.
"It's something we'll definitely look at,'' Girardi said. "He's had some success against lefthanders.''
Johnson actually has a higher career batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage against lefthanders.
Third-base platoon candidate Eduardo Nuñez started at shortstop in the Yankees' 5-4 win over the Twins. Nuñez (1-for-4) might see more time at short now with Brendan Ryan unlikely to be part of the Opening Day roster because of a pinched nerve in his back.
Derek Jeter, who fouled two balls off his left foot in the same at-bat Friday night but stayed in the game, said he felt fine Saturday.
Jacoby Ellsbury (calf) likely will return to action Tuesday, Girardi said. It could come in a minor-league game to protect the Yankees' right to backdate the centerfielder on the disabled list if things don't go well, although they don't expect to need to do that . . . Catcher Francisco Cervelli cooled off at the plate and got nicked up behind it. He went 0-for-2 to drop his average to .455 and was hit three times by foul tips, once in the right hand and twice in the groin area. Cervelli also was hit on the left shoulder by a pitch while batting. Still, after last year's frustrating season, marred by injuries and a Biogenesis-related suspension, Cervelli did not agree that it was a rough day for him. "No, no, no, no,'' he said. "It was a good day.'' . . . Scott Sizemore, who has an outside chance to win a utility role, went 1-for-3 with two RBIs but committed an error at third base.