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Travis Hafner unhappy but understands benching

Yankees designated hitter Travis Hafner leaves the plate

Yankees designated hitter Travis Hafner leaves the plate after striking out in the bottom of the sixth. (July 9, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Travis Hafner wasn't thrilled about being benched, but the veteran designated hitter certainly understood the reason for it.

"You want to play every day," Hafner said before Tuesday night's game in which Vernon Wells was the DH. "But you can understand at the same time. Obviously if I'm playing well, I would be in there more often."

It has been a struggle for Hafner since a standout April in which he hit .318 (.438 OBP) with six homers and 17 RBIs. He hit .179 with two homers and eight RBIs in May and .174 with four homers and 10 RBIs in June. Hafner is hitting .160 with no homers and two RBIs this month.

"It's been really frustrating," he said. "This is a great situation for me here, it's a great ballpark for me to hit in. I feel like I can go out there and play at a high level and play like I did the first month. There's no reason I can't do that, so it's been extremely frustrating. It definitely wears on you a little bit."

Hafner said he's been "tinkering for quite a while" with hitting coach Kevin Long and hopes a breakthrough came Monday during some cage work.

"Yesterday, [we] came up with something that's going to help out," he said. "We'll see. Something to help me see the ball better."

Joe Girardi said he remains confident in Hafner, though he didn't say the veteran would be right back in the lineup, either.

"He's not playing today but that doesn't mean I'm giving up on him," Girardi said. "We know that we need him to produce and somehow we have to find a way to get it done."

Phelps makes rehab start

David Phelps (right forearm strain) made a rehab start for Double-A Trenton Tuesday, allowing two runs and two hits in 32/3 innings against Altoona. Phelps walked three and struck out six.

Girardi and Brian Cashman both have said Phelps, 6-5 with a 5.01 ERA this season, isn't guaranteed reclaiming his spot in the rotation upon his return.

Pineda has short outing

Michael Pineda came out of his start for Triple-A Scranton Tuesday night after three innings (he allowed three hits and no runs), but Cashman, via text, said that was simply a result of "innings management," not an injury. Pineda recently completed his rehab from shoulder surgery.

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