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Yanks counting on Hafner's bat to be a force

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TAMPA, Fla. -- Every spring, Travis Hafner receives a shipment that packs in a couple of first basemen's gloves, sent to his team just in case. He hasn't needed to break one in lately.

"Usually people that need first-base mitts will call me, because they know," Hafner said.

An arthritic right elbow has kept Hafner out of the field since 2007, and the 35-year-old said that he has not done much throwing over the past five seasons.

While Hafner said that he felt "great" physically as he reported for his first day as a Yankee, manager Joe Girardi made it clear that the only equipment required of the left-handed slugger will be his bats.

"He's a DH," said Girardi, who then twice spelled out emphatically, "D ... H."

Hafner has been limited to an average of 86 games over the past five seasons due to injuries. The Yankees will try to keep Hafner healthy by using him as a DH against right-handed pitching, with hopes of having his lefty stroke do serious damage in Yankee Stadium.

"I think that's a really good fit," Hafner said. "I think it was the best spot for me."

Hafner played the last 10 seasons with the Indians, for whom he hit 200 big league homers, and he said that the chance of playing for a championship in New York was very appealing.

"I've only been to the playoffs once in the last 10 years," Hafner said. "I know here we have a great chance, and I'm very excited about that and looking forward to the opportunity. That was probably No. 1 on the list, just having a great chance to win."

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