BOSTON -- The Yankees enter the All-Star break in first place in the American League East, and they've done so without a dazzling first half from third baseman Alex Rodriguez.
Entering Sunday's series finale vs. the Red Sox, the final game before the All-Star break, Rodriguez was hitting .270 with 13 home runs and 37 RBIs. But manager Joe Girardi believes the three-time AL Most Valuable Player is poised for a big second half of the season.
"He's due. It is what it is," Girardi said. "Sometimes guys don't get hot in the first half. Sometimes they have torrid second halves. If I were to tell you that Robinson Cano wouldn't be hot at any point during April or May would you believe me? No. So no one knows what the future holds, but I would say he's due."
Rodriguez is tied with Nick Swisher for fourth on the team in homers. He's fifth on the club in RBIs but third with 81 hits in 81 games entering Sunday. Rodriguez's power numbers are down this season, but he's getting on base at a .359 clip.
The Major's active leader in home runs with 642, Rodriguez has not gone deep since June 26 vs. the Indians.
"Maybe he hasn't driven in all the runs that we maybe expect, but he's been on base, he's hit some home runs and he's a middle of the order guy," Girardi said.
Jeter: Muscle spasms in shoulder aren't 'a big deal'
BOSTON -- Derek Jeter experienced muscle spasms in his right shoulder during the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Red Sox on Sunday night, but the shortstop did not leave the game and does not expect to miss any time.
"He was getting a cramp in a shoulder," said manager Joe Girardi. "So I mean, I'm sure he'll be fine. He's OK. It's just a little cramp, a little spasm."
Jeter was not hampered by the injury at the plate and went 3-for-5 with a run. The spasms began in the first inning when he was on the basepaths following a leadoff single.
"It happens all time," he said. "It's not really a big deal. If it was a big deal, I would have came out of the game. Sometimes you move funny and get it. It's really not a big deal."
The Yankees captain made an error in the bottom of the inning, dropping a routine pop up. He maintained that the spasms did not cause him to drop the ball.
"I just dropped it," said Jeter, who also bobbled a slow ground ball in the third inning but was not charged with an error. "I had two hands and it didn't go in the glove or my hand. It's probably the most embarrassing thing that can happen to a player on defense."
Jeter will still participate in the All-Star Game in Kansas City on Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.
"The whole atmosphere is fun, the whole experience is fun, it never gets old," said Jeter, who's been selected to 13 All-Star teams. "Being around the guys is the thing you look forward to the most. You get an opportunity to talk to some player you don't know so well and get to know them."
CC throws bullpen session, on track to return
BOSTON -- CC Sabathia threw a bullpen session on Sunday afternoon and is on track to return to the Yankees' rotation during their second series after the All-Star break.
Sabathia, on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain, went through his normal bullpen routine and threw 43 pitches. The left-hander has been on the DL since June 28, but he hasn't experienced any discomfort from the injury this week.
"I've been feeling pretty good," he said. "I'm running, doing everything, threw on flat ground and felt great, played catch, so no problems out there. I'm ready to go."
The next step for the Yankees' ace will be another bullpen session on Tuesday in Kansas City before the All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium. He's also scheduled to throw a simulated game on Friday at Yankee Stadium, before New York opens a three-game series vs. the Angels.
Manager Joe Girardi expects Sabathia to come off the DL and start on July 17 vs. the Blue Jays at home.
"CC will throw a lot of pitches that day in the simulated game just so he sees a few hitters before he makes his start on Tuesday," Girardi said.
Sunday's game vs. the Red Sox was the 14th game New York played since Sabathia landed on the DL. The Yankees entered Sunday 8-5 in their last 13 games without the lefty.
"We've been playing well, still winning games," Sabathia said. "Guys have stepped up and pitched well. I want to get back as soon as possible and help the team. It always sucks going on the DL, but it's something that needed to be done and I feel better now."
Sabathia will still attend his sixth All-Star Game despite his injury situation. The players in the American League selected him to be an All-Star this year, though Sabathia's spot was taken by Angels starter C.J. Wilson. Sabathia's 8-year-old son, CC, made sure the trip to Kansas City remained intact.
"My son is old enough now, he wants to hang out and see the Home Run Derby and be a part of it," Sabathia said. "It's definitely an honor for me and I'm just excited. He was the one who really pushed for us to go, though."
Struggling Martin gets early jump on All-Star break
BOSTON -- Russell Martin snapped a 0-for-30 slump on Saturday night, but the catcher was not in manager Joe Girardi's lineup in Sunday's series finale vs. the Red Sox.
With Sunday night's affair the final game before the All-Star break, the Yankees wanted the struggling catcher to forget about the first half of the season. Martin hit .179 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 68 games.
"It was a tough half for Russell, so I just gave him one extra day, and I told him, 'Come back from the break and be the player that you're capable of and put the first half behind you,'" Girardi said.
Martin broke out of his prolonged slump with a double to left field in his first at-bat on Saturday. It was his first hit since June 20. That made it a tough decision for Girardi to sit Martin in favor of Chris Stewart on Sunday.
"Yeah, I mean it's tough, because I know he's disappointed and he wants to play," Girardi said, "but I'm just trying to just put the first half behind us. With all the struggles that we've had and some individual struggles, we have 51 wins and that's pretty good. If our guys get back to where some of their numbers usually are, who knows how many wins we will get in the second half."
Did Martin show any signs of frustration during his slump?
"I can see sometimes in a guy's face -- not necessarily in his play but in his face -- that it's tough," Giradi said. "It's tough what he's went through, but at no time has he not been a team player, at no time has he not done his work. It's just been a tough first half."
After getting plunked, Austin skips Futures Game
BOSTON -- Prospect Tyler Austin did not play in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on Sunday in Kansas City as he continues to recover from being hit in the head by a pitch in a Minor League game on Tuesday.
Austin, an outfielder, was the lone representative from the Yankees in the Futures Game. The U.S team beat the World team, 17-5, at Kauffman Stadium.
Playing with Class A Tampa on Tuesday vs. Dunedin, Austin was hit in the head in the bottom of the fifth inning. He left the game immediately and has not played since. It was Austin's first game with Tampa.
In 70 games with Class A Charleston before his promotion, Austin hit .320 with 14 home runs, 22 doubles and 54 RBIs. The Yankees selected him in the 13th round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft out of Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga.
Joba Chamberlain could begin a Minor League rehab stint as early as Tuesday, though manager Joe Girardi was unsure where the injured reliever would pitch.
Brett Gardner took 25 swings off a tee before Sunday's game and also took soft toss swings. Girardi said the injured outfielder needs to take batting practice in the cage and on the field before starting a rehab assignment.
Reliever David Aardsma, recovering from Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to visit Dr. Lewis Yocum on Monday in Los Angeles. He performed Aardsma's surgery.
Girardi said New York's bullpen was the biggest surprise of the first half of the season.
Austin Laymance is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.