OAKLAND, Calif. - Starting Jose Pirela at second base Saturday night instead of Stephen Drew was not, Joe Girardi said, a "position switch."
Drew has been solid in the field this season but has shown few indications that his bat will come around. He entered the game with a .158/.226/.303 slash line, five homers and 15 RBIs and was in a 0-for-19 slump.
But Girardi said it was more a matter of giving Drew, who played in 45 of the first 49 games, a rest. "I have to give these guys some days off," he said. "I checked with him and Head [Chase Headley] and decided to give Drew a day off."
Could Pirela, who starred in spring training before suffering a concussion and had a .200/.200/.233 slash line in 12 games, earn more playing time?
"Anyone can earn playing time," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line in this game and that's the way it's always been."
Slade Heathcott was placed on the DL Saturday with a right quadriceps strain and Ramon Flores was called up from Triple-A Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre. Though Flores, 23, flew overnight and arrived in the Bay Area at about 11:30 a.m., he found himself in the lineup Saturday night, starting in leftfield and batting seventh.
"I wanted to get him in there, get his feet wet and see if he can be productive for us," Girardi said. "He's another young player I think whose ceiling is pretty high offensively and defensively . . . The young man can hit."
Flores, signed by the Yankees as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, said his head still was swimming. "I feel like I'm still dreaming," he said. "It's been seven years in the minors to get here."
Flores was bypassed in favor of Heathcott on May 20 when centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was put on the DL with a right knee sprain, but that was mostly because his best position is leftfield and Heathcott's is centerfield.
"I knew my moment was going to come," Flores said.
Heathcott is scheduled to fly to New York on Sunday and will be evaluated by team physician Christopher Ahmad.
Gardner back in center
With Flores in left, Brett Gardner made his first start of the season in centerfield, his natural position.
"I think he'll be fine," Girardi said. "Obviously, the angles are a little bit different, but I don't think it will be a problem for him."
Didi getting going?
Didi Gregorius doubled Friday night and entered Saturday night 7-for-his-last-30. "I think he's hitting the ball harder, he's impacting the ball better," Girardi said. "That would be big for us."