NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's statistics haven't approached the levels that the Yankees slugger predicted this spring, but he is confident that a power surge waits right around the corner.
"My numbers are going to be there at the end of the year, there's no doubt about it," Rodriguez said. "The thing is, we've got to put it to work right away because our team needs victories. Our offense and coaches expect a lot from me, and I'll be there."
Rodriguez entered Sunday's series finale riding a streak of 40 at-bats without a home run, having last cleared the fences on May 6 in Kansas City. He was batting .278 with five home runs and 15 RBIs through his first 40 games, owning a .377 on-base percentage.
"I've been working my tail off with [hitting coach] Kevin Long, and I think we're in a good place now," Rodriguez said. "One of the things I'm working on is to improve the ratio of ground balls to fly balls. I've been putting the ball on the ground a little bit too much, and the last two or three days have been much better, so I'm very encouraged."
Rodriguez said that he is "extremely confident" that he is still capable of a big campaign, and added that he feels "100 percent" healthy. Seeing more time at designated hitter could be keeping Rodriguez fresher; manager Joe Girardi has already used him as a DH 11 times.
The 36-year-old heard boos after his third and fourth at-bats in Saturday's 0-for-4 performance, but he was not the lone culprit in New York's 6-5 loss to the Reds. Rodriguez acknowledged the Yankees have shown signs of pressing with runners in scoring position, owning just five hits in their last 55 at-bats with runners at second or third bases entering Sunday.
"As an offense, we have to really just bring it down and focus on scoring at least four runs a game," Rodriguez said. "That's an important benchmark for us. We can't worry about other parts of our game. We have to worry about simplifying, having good at-bats and not trying to do too much."
Teixeira pinch-hits, hopes to play Monday
NEW YORK -- With the Yankees down three runs in the ninth inning of Sunday's 5-2 loss to the Reds, Yankees manager Joe Girardi inserted Mark Teixeira into the lineup to pinch-hit.
The first baseman scorched Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman's pitch down the third-base line and made it to first on third baseman Wilson Valdez's throwing error. For the past several weeks, Teixeira has been battling severely inflamed bronchial airways, and Girardi wanted to be cautious with Teixeira for the final two games of this weekend's series with the Reds.
"He's been a big hitter for us since he's been here," Girardi said. "I talked to him and made sure he felt all right. I tried to give him plenty of time to get loose. The hope was him running wouldn't bring about the cough. That's why I pinch-ran for him. If we could go a couple days without him coughing, maybe it'll end."
Girardi said he wants to get Teixeira back in the lineup on Monday against Kansas City, barring any further negative developments. Teixeira said although he's not 100 percent, the days off on Saturday and Sunday improved his condition.
"I think at this point we know we have to deal with it for a little while," Teixeira said. "The days off definitely helped, and we'll see how it goes tomorrow. I'll have to play through a little discomfort."
Gardner won't swing bat until at least Thursday
NEW YORK -- Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner will not pick up a bat until at least Thursday. Manager Joe Girardi said the outfielder is still progressing the way the club had hoped, but he'll continue to rest his injured elbow until the latter part of the week, when he'll travel to Tampa, Fla., to start rehabbing at the Yankees' Minor League complex.
"I'm just kind of taking the mindset with this thing that I've got to be patient with it and I've got to let it heal," Gardner said. "Whether it's three or four more days or two or three more weeks. Hopefully, some time this week I'll be swinging the bat, you know, middle, end of the week."
Gardner met with team doctors on Sunday to reevaluate the injury, and he'll have an MRI done sometime this week. The hope was Gardner might swing a bat as soon as this weekend, however, Girardi squashed any chance of that before the Yankees' game with the Reds on Sunday.
"We just feel that he's probably going to have to go until Thursday before he can do it," Girardi said. "We're just not comfortable with where he's at right now to do it."
Girardi said his left fielder will probably need a couple games to get his rhythm back after he begins to take swings on Thursday. Gardner said the plan is to play a couple of games in Tampa, then eventually join back up with the Yankees.
"Gardy is young, younger," Girardi said. "It shouldn't take that long as long as he doesn't have any setbacks. The key is getting him over that hump to where he doesn't have a setback. When he does come back, you have to kind of build up to where he can play in a game. Hopefully, it wouldn't be long."
Gardner said his elbow feels better, although the evaluation was a bit premature. He has been receiving daily treatment for the injury, and the only time he feels pain is when he fully extends his elbow.
Gardner's right elbow has kept him on the 15-day disabled list since April 17. He is hitting .321 with three RBIs in nine games this season.
Granderson shouldering heavy workload
NEW YORK -- Brett Gardner's injury has made it difficult for manager Joe Girardi to find time off for his other outfielders, such as center fielder Curtis Granderson and right fielder Raul Ibanez. Granderson specifically has been forced to shoulder a heavier workload, playing in all of the innings the Yankees have played this season.
Girardi said he'd like to get Granderson a half-day off sometime in the next three days by playing him at designated hitter.
"He's been a guy, though, who hasn't really needed them in the past," Girardi said. "He's been able to play every day, but I've talked to him a couple times this week to see if he's been OK, and he's been OK."
The Yankees have an off-day on Thursday before traveling to Oakland, and Girardi hoped that would help give his center fielder a rest. Granderson isn't new to playing on little to no rest. He said he's played every game with few off-days for the bulk of his career, and he doesn't feel tired or worn down this season.
"It's part of it, you get yourself ready to play regardless," Granderson said. "We've had scheduled days off, so it's not like I haven't had any rest. It's one of those things where if you get it, great. If not, get ready to play."
Granderson is one of seven players who have appeared in every inning of his team's games this season, joining Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki, Baltimore's Adam Jones, Atlanta's Dan Uggla, Philadelphia's Shane Victorino, the Cubs' Starlin Castro and Cincinnati's Joey Votto.
Ibanez was at DH Sunday to prevent him from playing five straight days in the field.
"I'm just trying to keep them from also getting hurt," Girardi said. "One of the biggest reasons guys get hurt is because of fatigue. You have to be careful."
On Saturday, right-hander Ivan Nova became the fourth Yankees pitcher in the live ball era (since 1920) to record at least 12 strikeouts in six innings or less. A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain accomplished the feat in 2009, and Scott Sanderson did it in 1991.
Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte recorded his 241st career victory on Friday, breaking a tie with Frank Tanana (240) and tying Hall of Famer Herb Pennock (241) on the all-time list. Pettitte needs two wins to equal Juan Marichal's career total of 243.
On this date in 1948, Joe DiMaggio hit for the second of two career cycles in a 13-2 Yankees victory over the White Sox.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Ethan Asofsky is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.