Yankees Notebook: Chavez on fire, Cano still hurting

Robinson Cano.

Perhaps no Yankee is as hot as Eric Chavez. But even with him being in the middle of his best stretch as a Yankee and maybe in years, he will have a seat for the start of the next three games due to left-handed pitching being thrown against the Yankees.

Chavez went 3-for-3 Tuesday and has a career-high six straight multi-hit games. He has also driven in a run in five straight games which, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is his longest since six straight contests Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2004.

“My swing feels good, that’s for sure,” Chavez said. “I was tinkering with it. I found something I was real comfortable with in Detroit. I’m seeing the ball good. I’m swinging at strikes, which definitely helps too. I’m not going to be this hot the rest of the season, that’s for sure, so I just enjoy it while I can.”

Chavez also has 14 hits in his last 23 at-bats and his 13 home runs are his most since hitting 15 in 2007 and eight more than his total between the 2008 season and last year when he appeared in just 122 games.

Chavez’s play is a part of the third base trio that has held it together in the absence of Alex Rodriguez. Along with Casey McGhee and Jayson Nix, Yankee third basemen took a .408 average (29-for-71) to go along with seven home runs into Thursday’s game.

“He is finding ways to stay ready,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I see him doing a ton of work in the cage is what I see. In the third inning, you hear, ‘crack, crack, crack,’ and you see Chavy taking some swings — then again in the fifth inning and the seventh. You just hear it, so he’s figured out how to do it.”

Neck keeps Cano to the bench

Other than the five games he has played as a designated hitter, Robinson Cano has not watched much of the action from the dugout.

For a second straight game though, Cano was held out of the starting lineup with a stiff neck. The Yankees believe that the neck stiffened up while Cano was sleeping.

“It’s never easy to give Robbie a day,” Girardi said before the game. “But if you have to do it, you’re forced to do it. We’re able to win a game without him [Wednesday], but it’s hard not writing his name in the lineup.”

Since playing in 122 games during 2006, when he missed over a month with a hamstring injury, Cano has missed just 11 games.

The neck stiffness possibly comes at a good time for Cano. Though the Yankees have won seven of nine, Cano has one hit in his last 15 at-bats after going 6-for-13 in his prior three games.

Cano entered the game Thursday as a pinch hitter and drew an eighth-inning walk. He didn’t score on Ichiro Suzuki’s double that fell in and out of centerfielder Craig Gentry’s glove as third base coach Rob Thomson held him up.

“He’s relying on the third base coach,” Girardi said. “I was watching the ball.”

Jones explains dropped ball

Many left fielders have struggled in the sun at Yankee Stadium and Thursday was Andruw Jones’s turn.

With nobody out in the sixth, Josh Hamilton hit a fly ball that Jones had trouble reading instantly. He tried to recover in time to make the play but was too late and Jones fell down while losing the ball in the sun.

“That ball was out and it kept going,” Jones said. “When I went for the ball, it’s my ball right away. I was trying at the last minute right away [to get it]. It hit the ground hard and I was happy I didn’t lose my head.”

The play led to two Texas runs, though Jones helped get it back with a two-run home run off Derek Holland that was upheld after a brief review.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.



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