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Yankees Notebook: A-Rod power outage, Chapman to closer

Rodriguez has not hit a home run in 40 at-bats and recently went nine games without driving in a run.

On the surface, a .278 batting average is respectable for most players, including Alex Rodriguez.

It is the five home runs, the .410 slugging and the fact that just nine of his hits have gone for extra bases, that has left some wondering where the power is for Rodriguez.

Entering Sunday, Rodriguez has gone 11 games since his last home run May 6 in Kansas City. Last year, he went 24 games spanning June 11 to Aug. 26 without connecting. He also went 16 games without a home run early last year.

“I just hope that when it comes, it comes in bunches,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s what you hope.”

Rodriguez went 0-for-4 Saturday, though he hit a ball to the warning track in his second at-bat. He has not hit a home run in 40 at-bats and recently went nine games without driving in a run.

“[I’m] working very hard with [hitting coach] Kevin Long every day,” Rodriguez said Saturday. “My numbers are going to be there at the end of the day and there’s no question about it.”

Last year on this date, Rodriguez held a .261 batting average, but he held a .486 slugging and already had eight home runs and 24 RBI.

Two months later, he underwent knee surgery and struggled mightily once he returned. Now it seems that the Yankees are expecting more production without necessarily hitting 40 home runs.

“You don’t have to hit 40 home runs to be productive; you don’t,” Girardi said. “You can drive in a lot of runs.”

Brett Gardner one month later

It has been one month since Brett Gardner last appeared in a major league game. The next step for him will likely be Thursday when he picks up a bat. That is assuming his meeting with the team doctors went well and they determined that no setbacks have occurred.

“Hopefully that’s going in the right direction,” Girardi said. “We’re just not comfortable with where he’s at right now.”

Gardner’s last game was April 17 and the Yankees held a .351 on-base percentage. Entering Sunday, that number had dropped to .338.

Teixeira sits out series

Since Opening Day, Mark Teixeira has been fighting his way through a bronchial ailment. It has not been enough to send him to the disabled list, but it has sat him down for the weekend.

Nick Swisher started at first base Friday and Saturday while Eric Chavez started there Sunday.

When he speaks, Teixeira’s voice has been hoarse and the combination of medication and visits to doctor have not helped.

New closer for the Reds

Yesterday, Reds closer Sean Marshall was lifted in the ninth as he tried to convert the save in Saturday’s 6-5 victory. Manager Dusty Baker used Jose Arredondo, who recorded his first career save.

Afterwards, Baker told reporters he might replace Marshall with Aroldis Chapman. Before Sunday’s game, he indicated the change might not occur immediately due to concerns about Chapman pitching on consecutive days.

“Chapman is my No. 1 candidate,” Baker said. “But he’s not as good the second day. Last year, he wasn’t nearly as good the third day. We may have to give him two days; go back to someone else two days. We’ve got to figure this out.”

Marshall has allowed 22 hits in 14 1/3 innings while pitching to a 5.02 ERA in 16 appearances.

Chapman has yet to allow an earned run in 17 appearances and has allowed seven hits in 21 1/3 innings to go along with 38 strikeouts. On Saturday, he pitched the eighth and threw 17 pitches (15 fastballs) while retiring Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Rodriguez in order.

Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.