Cabrera searches for answers at plate

Cabrera searches for answers at plate

ARLINGTON -- Joe Girardi's plan for Melky Cabrera was simple: two days off, two days of rest, two days to clear his mind of all things baseball.

"It started as just giving Melky a chance to re-energize himself," the Yankees manager said. "He had been playing every day."

Now, he's barely playing at all. Aside from cameos in each of the Yankees' first two games in Texas, Cabrera has done little but sit on the bench and watch. Monday and Tuesday were planned absences, and on Wednesday, Girardi left no room in his outfield when he chose to use Alex Rodriguez -- instead of an outfielder -- as his designated hitter.

That wasn't part of the plan, and it left Cabrera unable to hit his way out of a slump that has reached 13 hitless at-bats and counting. The last of those came in a pinch-hitting appearance during Tuesday night's game, which resulted in a weak line drive and, ultimately, a Yankees loss. Girardi took heat after that game for his decision to pinch-hit Cabrera instead of Ivan Rodriguez, though he explained away his decision with optimism.

Cabrera, he believes, is due to start hitting.

"I think his confidence is fine," Girardi said. "Melky's ready to play every day. He comes to play. Maybe he's not exactly where he wants to be right now and where we want him to be, but that doesn't mean that Melky's not going to play or that he can't continue to improve."

He should be in the lineup on Thursday night, when the Yankees and Rangers complete their four-game series at Rangers Ballpark. And perhaps there, Cabrera will find an answer to his offensive woes.

"Sometimes, it can be an anxiousness," Girardi said, "where you're trying to make up for a couple of tough days, and you're trying to get two hits in one at-bat."

Not that offense has been a problem for the Yankees, who have pounded out more than seven runs per game in the past five days. They'll be more worried Thursday about keeping Mike Mussina on track, after another fine start last week against the Angels.

Mussina's 17 career wins against the Rangers are the most by any active pitcher, tied with Barry Zito and Bartolo Colon.

Pitching matchup
NYY: RHP Mike Mussina (14-7, 3.44 ERA)
Mussina limited a red-hot Angels offense to two runs (one earned) and two hits on Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. After his team fell to an early 2-0 deficit, the righty retired 16 batters in a row to keep the Halos off the bases and the scoreboard. He effectively mixed in his breaking ball to keep hitters off balance and struck out five with two walks. Mussina also pitched economically, throwing 89 pitches through seven innings. The righty picked up the tough-luck loss in his last start against Texas on June 30, giving up two runs on five hits.

TEX: RHP Scott Feldman (4-4, 4.97 ERA)
Feldman dropped back to .500 in his last start against Toronto as his ERA remained at 4.97. In 5 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays, Feldman allowed four runs, three earned, on five hits and three walks while striking out four. It was the second consecutive start he struck out more batters than he walked. In his three starts leading up to his last two, he registered 12 walks to a mere three strikeouts. Thursday will be Feldman's second meeting with the Yankees this season. The first time around, he earned the victory at Yankee Stadium, allowing just one run in 5 2/3 innings.

Hideki Matsui reported no pain after taking 37 swings in an outdoor batting practice session. Matsui, on the disabled list with left knee inflammation, will begin a running program on Thursday. ... The Yankees outrighted catcher Chad Moeller to Triple-A Scranton ... Phil Hughes is scheduled to start Thursday for Scranton, throwing roughly 65 pitches. Carl Pavano will also start Thursday for Double-A Trenton. ... Alex Rodriguez, who entered this series having grounded into four double plays on the season, has grounded into three of them in the past two days.

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On the Internet
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television

On radio
• WCBS 880, WNSW 1430 (Español)

Up next
• Friday: Yankees (Ian Kennedy, 0-3, 7.41) at Angels (Jered Weaver, 9-9, 4.37), 10:05 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Yankees (Dan Giese, 1-3, 2.51) at Angels (John Lackey, 9-2, 3.10), 3:55 p.m. ET
• Sunday: Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 12-9, 4.34) at Angels (Joe Saunders, 14-5, 3.03), 3:35 p.m. ET

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.