Girardi sticks with the hot hand of Almonte

Girardi sticks with the hot hand of Almonte

Girardi sticks with the hot hand of Almonte

NEW YORK -- On Sunday, for the third straight game, Vernon Wells was out of the starting lineup, his spot taken by rookie phenom Zoilo Almonte.

Even after smacking a bases-clearing ground-rule double to give New York a two-run lead in the seventh inning of its 7-5 win over the Rays on Saturday, Wells began Sunday's game on the bench as the Yankees faced the right-handed Chris Archer.

Wells' splits make the decision obvious. He bats .181 with a .233 slugging percentage against righties, but those numbers bump to .283 and .424, respectively, against left-handers. So as long as Almonte keeps hitting, he's the better option against righties, but Wells will get his cuts -- especially against lefties.

"We're going to be in a long stretch here coming up, so everyone's going to have to play," manager Joe Girardi said. "I don't ever pin myself in -- I try not to, at least -- and I'll manage it day to day and see how the guys are doing. Sometimes you ride a hot hand -- that's what you do in this game -- and we'll evaluate another day."

For now, Almonte is as hot a hand as there is in baseball. He's gone 5-for-8 since being called up, with one home run and one walk.

What stood out to Girardi has been Almonte's discipline at the plate. He smacked a two-out, two-run single in the third inning on Saturday and drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth.

"[Drawing a] bases-loaded walk is not always easy for a young kid to do," Girardi said. "We were having trouble scoring runs yesterday, we had some opportunities we weren't able to cash in early -- his discipline there was very good."

Chris Iseman and David Wilson are associate reporters for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.