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Girardi holds Gardner, Ichiro, Stewart out of lineup

Girardi holds Gardner, Ichiro, Stewart out of lineup

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NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi shuffled his lineup Tuesday with the hopes of fulfilling multiple purposes.

It was a chance to sit some left-handed hitters against Angels lefty Jason Vargas, but it also served as a way to rest players the Yankees have been running out on the field on almost an everyday basis.

"Just using everyone," Girardi said, "keeping everyone strong and fresh."

Girardi slotted shortstop Eduardo Nunez in the leadoff spot for the first time this season, which gave usual center fielder Brett Gardner a breather. Gardner did enter the Yankees' 14-7 win over the Angels as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning and finished the game in center field.

"He's been playing every day, but I've noticed in the second half when I've given him a day off how much more explosive he's been," Girardi said. "He seemed to swing better. I think that's important. We ran him really hard the first half, and I think it took its toll a little bit."

Vernon Wells started in right field on Tuesday in place of the left-handed-hitting Ichiro Suzuki.

Girardi also held catcher Chris Stewart out of the lineup to give him a rest and started Austin Romine. Stewart has played in a career-high 80 games this season, 13 more than he played in while with San Francisco in 2011.

Stewart was hit on the hand with a backswing during Monday night's 2-1 win over the Angels, but Girardi said Stewart's fine.

Romine has also been hot at the plate. In his last 11 games going back to July 11, Romine was 11-for-31 (.355) with four doubles, a home run and four RBIs.

"We think he's made some really big improvements in his time here," Girardi said. "We're happy with the way he's playing. I don't feel like I need to run Stew into the ground. I can keep them both involved and active. A lot of times when you do that, you can get more productivity."

Girardi said Romine will likely see some more playing time, but Stewart will still catch "a lot."

Josh Vitale and Chris Iseman are associate reporters for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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