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Zoilo Almonte continues to hit

Yankees hitter Zoilo Almonte doubles during the sixth

Yankees hitter Zoilo Almonte doubles during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays. (June 23, 2013) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

In a 3-1 loss to Tampa Bay that was notable for the Yankees' lack of timely hitting, rookie leftfielder Zoilo Almonte delivered two doubles -- and saw his average drop to .583.

Sure, it was only his third straight start Sunday and fifth game overall, but Almonte has added an exciting dimension to a struggling lineup. But he was stranded at second in the fourth and sixth innings as no Yankee reached third base after the first.

"Ever since I've come up, I've felt comfortable, regardless of the result," Almonte said. "It means a lot. This is a team with a lot of tradition. It feels good that I'm up here and I'm able to do what I've done so far."

Speaking Spanish through an interpreter, Almonte often uses the word "tranquilo," and he certainly has been the picture of calm. Joe Girardi praised his "plate discipline" and ability to refrain from chasing pitches.

Perhaps Almonte wishes he had chased the pitch on which he struck out looking to lead off the ninth against Rays closer Fernando Rodney. "Next time, I'll get him," Almonte said.

In the meantime, Almonte said he's happy the fans "have welcomed me with open arms." The fans will continue to embrace him as long as he hits.

Can he keep hitting around .600, someone jokingly asked? With a smile, Almonte said, "That's only something God knows."


Hughes moved backStarting pitcher Phil Hughes, who pitched in Wednesday's doubleheader against the Dodgers, was moved back two days in the rotation and will start Thursday against Texas. Asked if Hughes is under pressure to hold on to his spot after Ivan Nova's strong outing Sunday, Girardi said, "This is a game that you have to prove yourself over and over."


No Tex messageMark Teixeira (wrist), who is on the DL, declined an update on his rehab progress, saying, "There's no news." . . . The Yankees optioned outfielder Thomas Neal to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make room for Nova.

New York Sports