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Dedicated Chavez a perfect fill-in for A-Rod

Dedicated Chavez a perfect fill-in for A-Rod

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Dedicated Chavez a perfect fill-in for A-Rod
NEW YORK -- Eric Chavez was out of the Yankees' starting lineup on Thursday, and likely won't start on Friday or Saturday, either, with New York facing a string of left-handed starters against Texas and Boston.

But manager Joe Girardi should have little cause for concern about whether Chavez will continue his hot-hitting ways if he gets a pinch-hit at-bat. Chavez has recorded a multihit game in each of his past six times in the starting lineup, even with four days off scattered throughout.

"I think he's done it enough in his career the last couple of years that he knows how to prepare himself," Girardi said. "It's usually not a week off; it's a couple days off. It seems to work for him. He has found a way to stay ready. I see him doing a ton of work in the cage. It will be the third inning, and you hear, 'Crack, crack, crack,' and there's Chavy, taking swings. It's the fifth inning, the seventh inning, and you just hear it. He's figured out how to do it."

Chavez hasn't seen this much playing time since 2007, mostly due to third baseman Alex Rodriguez's stint on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand. Chavez's 201 at-bats entering Thursday were his most since '07, as were his 311 2/3 innings at third base.

Chavez has started 10 of the Yankees' 20 games since Rodriguez landed on the DL, combining with Casey McGehee and Jayson Nix to go 29-for-71 (.382) with seven homers, 16 RBIs and 17 runs scored as part of a platoon.

Chavez headlines that group, having gone 17-for-41 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs in his starts at third base in Rodriguez's absence.

Girardi said that once Rodriguez returns, he will find ways to get Chavez more at-bats as a designated hitter or first baseman, spelling Mark Teixeira, although that is still at least two weeks away, as Rodriguez will not swing a bat until next week at the earliest.

In the meantime, Girardi can expect to keep hearing Chavez's swings from the batting cage, as the 34-year-old veteran tries to keep his rhythm, even during days off.

"My swing feels good, that's for sure," Chavez said after going 3-for-3 with an RBI in New York's 3-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday. "I found I was tinkering with it. I found something that I was real comfortable with in Detroit. I'm seeing the ball good. I'm swinging at strikes, which definitely helps, too, but I'm not going to be this hot for the rest of the year, so I'm just going to enjoy it while I can."

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