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Yanks put Boesch through wringer in drills at first

Yanks put Boesch through wringer in drills at first

CLEVELAND -- Brennan Boesch said the last time he played first base was in high school, but he has been taking a crash course at the position this week under the instruction of infield coach Mick Kelleher.

Having played only outfield in his professional career, Boesch slumped in his locker chair and said that he could "barely walk" after Kelleher's latest intensive session on Tuesday at Progressive Field, which consisted of peppering the 27-year-old with dozens of hot shots down the line.

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"It's been a while; just trying to knock the rust off," Boesch said. "The coaching staff is helping me get comfortable there in case I'm needed in a situation. It's getting better every day, but you guys are used to [Mark] Teixeira out there.

"I've got him at least to help me out in the meantime. It's fun. It's a new challenge -- as if in baseball you need a new challenge, but here you go. It's another one for me."

Manager Joe Girardi said that the Yankees are trying to increase Boesch's versatility, but they are not looking to replace Lyle Overbay against right-handed pitching. Girardi also said that in the event of an injury, he'd be more likely to use Kevin Youkilis or Jayson Nix at first base right now.

"I'm not saying that I plan on throwing [Boesch] out there anytime soon, but I think the more flexibility you get as we watch him progress and take a lot more grounders, it might work," Girardi said.

Girardi said that Kelleher had to start with the basic fundamentals for Boesch, who has borrowed one of Overbay's spare gloves for the assignment.

"The footwork is pretty precise," Boesch said. "[Some people] think if you just throw a big guy over there, he's going to block the ball, but there's a lot more precision. You watch Tex take ground balls over there, the footwork is very precise where he's setting up to get the hop every time. That's why he's the Gold Glover that he is."

Boesch said that Teixeira has been "like the most positive guy ever" in discussing the position with him. Teixeira said that the main point he wanted to stress to Boesch was to not put too much pressure on himself and try to have fun with it.

"He's got a lot of talent," Teixeira said. "He's got a lot of natural ability that I think will progress into being a good first baseman. Being a natural left-hander, it's good. You have a guy who has nice long arms who, if he has to throw the ball to second base, he's got that left-handed throw. That makes it easier."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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