Notes: A-Rod battling through slump

Notes: A-Rod battling through slump

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez's latest struggles have been well documented, as the reigning American League MVP continues to look for answers at the plate.

The boos that have rained on him from the Yankee Stadium crowds in recent days have gotten louder with each at-bat, including all four of his trips to the plate on Tuesday night. Three of those ABs resulted in strikeouts.

"I deserve it. I should get booed when I stink," Rodriguez said. "That's an easy story. When I'm good, they're going to cheer, and when I'm bad, they're going to boo me. I deserve it. That's pretty much all I can say. I've been pretty miserable lately."

"I don't think the fans booing him really impacts anything," manager Joe Torre said. "If he gets a base hit, they're going to cheer him. That's the way it is. I think he's just fighting himself right now, more that he's letting his teammates down.

"When you're in the situation he's in, it goes with the territory," added the manager. "There is a lot expected of him, so when you start struggling, it becomes doubly tough to break out of it."

Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored on Wednesday, just his second RBI this month.

"It felt good to contribute and be in the middle of things," Rodriguez said. "The RBI felt good, the base hit up the middle. Hopefully I can build from that."

A-Rod did strike out twice on Wednesday, though the second one was a called third strike on a pitch that looked to be well out of the zone. He has struck out 13 times in 36 June at-bats.

"He's not there, yet," Torre said. "He's still not relaxed."

"I'm just working on a few things," he said. "Seeing the ball, getting good swings, getting good pitches to hit."

Rodriguez's 0-for-4 on Tuesday lowered his average to .278, the lowest average through 60 games of Rodriguez's career.

"The only thing I notice is that he's been pressing," Torre said. "We've all done it, and there's no sure-fire solution to it other than to bottom out somewhere and work your way back to the top. Unfortunately, he's under the microscope all the time here, whether he's in a slump or he's hitting. Everything he does, he's very conscious of it, and that magnifies it."

Rodriguez has just five hits in his last 36 at-bats, as he entered Wednesday with one hit in his last 12 ABs. Rodriguez missed two games on June 2-3 with a stomach virus, and he hasn't looked the same since returning to the field.

After going 18-10 in May, when A-Rod won AL Player of the Month honors, the Yankees are 5-6 in June, having lost four in a row before Tuesday's win over Cleveland.

With Melky Cabrera hitting well in the No. 2 spot and Jason Giambi returning to the lineup, Torre moved Rodriguez from the cleanup spot to fifth in the batting order, but he doesn't think that A-Rod's spot in the lineup will be a major factor in breaking out of his slump.

"I'm not sure it's where he hits as opposed to the situation you come up in," Torre said. "Just because you hit fourth or fifth doesn't mean you're going to hit with men in scoring position. In this league, chances are that you're going to hit with men on base no matter where you hit."

Jason returns: After missing two games with a bruised left hand, Giambi was back in the lineup Wednesday as the Yankees designated hitter.

Giambi was hit by both a batted ball and a pitch on Saturday, but the swelling has subsided to the point where he can now grip a bat.

"It's OK. It's as good as it's going to be," Giambi said. "I took some swings yesterday but just couldn't hold onto the bat. So hopefully it will be better today."

With the Yankees traveling to National League ballparks in Washington and Philadelphia for six games beginning Friday, Giambi will have to play first base if he is to play against the Nationals and Phillies.

"He's going to have to figure out whether he can or not," Torre said. "If he can't, he'll be a pinch-hitter for us."

Wright on the ball: Despite the gluttony of injuries to Yankees sluggers, Jaret Wright doesn't think he'll be hitting cleanup anytime soon.

However, his batting practice performances Tuesday and Wednesday suggested that he'll be quite ready Friday in Washington. The hurler will be forced into the lineup in the NL park, but Wright said he's excited about the opportunity.

"I love hitting," Wright said. "But I'm only good at around 5 o'clock."

That's the time Yankees pitchers have cranked batting-practice fastballs out of the park the past few days in preparation for Interleague Play. Wright smacked five home runs Wednesday, leading the pitchers in long balls by a fair margin. Reliever Kyle Farnsworth hit one Tuesday, while Wright hit two.

But as Wright said, it's not likely he will be able to carry his success from BP over to his at-bats against the Nationals' pitchers.

"If we had a batting practice contest, I'd enter it," Wright said with a laugh.

Dotel update: Octavio Dotel pitched for a second straight night at Triple-A Columbus, throwing a 1-2-3 sixth inning, striking out two batters.

Dotel allowed two runs on three hits in one inning on Tuesday, his first game with Columbus after shifting his rehab assignment from Class A Tampa.

"He was fine. It was all about command, and that's what you have to live with," Torre said. "It may not only be down there, it may be up here. The history with [Tommy John elbow] surgery is command [problems]."

Bubba Crosby (hamstring) played right field and went 1-for-4 for Columbus on Wednesday, hitting a solo home run in the first inning. Crosby went 1-for-4 as the DH on Tuesday.

"If he feels good and has a good game, it could be the next day, whenever that is," Torre said before Wednesday's game.

Open mind: With the U.S. Open getting under way Thursday at Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y., Torre had some predictions to make before the tournament.

Torre said that while Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh have been playing well lately, he is pulling for Jim Furyk to win the event. Torre and Furyk are neighbors in Maui.

Coming up: The Yankees and Indians close out their three-game series on Thursday afternoon, as Mike Mussina takes on Cliff Lee in the series finale. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET.

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for Associate reporter Ryan Mink contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.