The Yankees started to look a little more like the Yankees on Friday when Mark Teixeira made his season debut and Kevin Youkilis returned to the lineup for the first time in over a month.
The pair were activated from the disabled list before the series opener against the AL East-leading Boston Red Sox. The Yankees entered on a season-high five-game losing streak following a four-game Subway Series sweep by the Mets.
"No matter how good I am or how good Kevin Youkilis is, there's not one person that can ever carry a team," said Teixeira, a two-time All-Star first baseman. "LeBron James can carry the Heat to a win a championship, but there's not one guy in baseball that can do that. Knowing that and being a veteran, I've understood that you want to do well, but you can't put the weight of the world on your shoulders."
New York still is without regular third baseman Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery), shortstop Derek Jeter (broken ankle) and left fielder Curtis Granderson (broken knuckle), who probably are out until after the All-Star break. Catcher Francisco Cervelli (broken hand) likely is out until late June.
Left-hander Andy Pettitte (back spasm) is due to come off the DL and start Monday against Cleveland.
"We want to have our team back. Not seeing Derek Jeter on the Yankees is weird. It's a weird feeling for fans, for his teammates," Teixeira said. "Hopefully by the end of the season, we're still in the race, we're on our way to the playoffs and we have a full team."
Given a warm ovation before he walked leading off the second inning, Teixeira had a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, sustained while taking batting practice with the U.S. at the World Baseball Classic on March 5. Youkilis had not played since April 27 because of a back injury.
"The things that hurt before don't hurt now. That's always a good sign," Youkilis said. "My back, my hamstrings and my legs and all that area were so tight, locked up, and now they're not like that."
Girardi: no pressure on players
In his first year with the Yankees, Youkilis opened the season with a nine-game hitting streak and was batting .266 with two homers and seven RBIs in 64 at-bats before going on the DL. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he will be careful to give them days off in an attempt to prevent them from wearing down.
"Nothing in my body is as good as new," Teixeira said. "You play as many games as I do, everything kind of — you have to deal with certain things every day."
To clear roster spots, the Yankees optioned right-hander Ivan Nova and left-hander Vidal Nuno to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre. Girardi said a position player likely would be moved off the active roster when Pettitte is activated.
Girardi maintained this week's skid should not add pressure on his players.
"They've been through worse than this," he said. "I know all of them have."
Also Friday, Red Sox centre fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was removed from the starting lineup because of a tight left groin.
Ellsbury stole a team record five bases during Thursday's 9-2 win at Philadelphia. Red Sox manager John Farrell said Ellsbury felt the tightness during his final steal, in the eighth inning.
"We're expecting to be a day-to-day and hopefully not too long of a situation," Farrell said.
Rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. replaced Ellsbury in the starting lineup against the Yankees. Farrell said Ellsbury likely would not be available off the bench.