BALTIMORE -- The original thought was to give Vernon Wells a night off on Monday, allowing him back-to-back days of rest after the veteran outfielder had appeared in all but one of the Yankees' 42 contests this season.
So much for that. Wells entered the game as an eighth-inning pinch-hitter and delivered a go-ahead ground-rule double in the 10th inning off Pedro Strop, helping lift the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
"That lasted for a couple hours," Wells said. "It's good. Nice and refreshed."
Wells, 34, has enjoyed some success in his career against Orioles right-hander Freddy Garcia, stroking seven hits in 16 at-bats (.438), but manager Joe Girardi came into Monday's game believing the veteran outfielder needed a break. That changed by the eighth inning, when Wells grounded out against Darren O'Day before lacing his big hit in extra frames.
"The way the game was shaping up, close ballgame, any time any of us have an off-day, we want to be ready in case something happens," Wells said. "Joe asked me if I was ready in the eighth, and I said, 'Sure.' He said, 'Go play.'
"Obviously, the most important one came in my second at-bat. It was good to get in that situation. Early on in the at-bat, I was trying to get [Ichiro Suzuki] over, but [Strop has] got good stuff. I got to two strikes and it was just a matter of trying to put the bat on the ball."
Wells has been a nice surprise for the Yankees, batting .288 with 10 homers and 24 RBIs. Girardi said that it is a nice problem to have to rotate his outfield now that it includes Curtis Granderson, who started on Monday in left field as he played his fifth game of the season. Girardi also has Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Ben Francisco in the mix.
"I'm going to have to work out this rotation, in a sense, but Vern's going to be in there a lot," Girardi said. "All these guys are going to play a lot. He had two really good at-bats."
Tex takes at-bats for first time since injury in sim game
BALTIMORE -- The corner locker normally reserved for Mark Teixeira in the visiting clubhouse at Camden Yards was instead occupied by newly acquired infielder Reid Brignac on Monday, a reminder that Teixeira still has not played a single game for the Yankees this year.
There is hope that could be changing soon. Teixeira announced on Twitter on Monday that he had his first at-bats since March at the Yankees' complex in Tampa, Fla., a good sign as he attempts to return from a partially torn tendon sheath in his right wrist.
"Felt good to get my first AB's since March. 1-2 with a double and a walk, I'll take it," Teixeira wrote, adding, "#Yankees in first place, I'll take that too!"
The at-bats came in a simulated game, according to manager Joe Girardi, who said that the report from Tampa was "really good news."
Teixeira has said that he hopes to be playing in big league games before June 1, but Girardi likened Teixeira's progress level to late February batting-practice sessions before Spring Training games begin.
"It's definite progress for him," Girardi said. "We want to see him have a lot of at-bats and see how the wrist responds to that. Today was the first step, so I'm really curious to see how he feels tomorrow."
Felt good to get my first AB's since March. 1-2 with a double and a walk, I'll take it. #Yankees in first place, I'll take that too!- Mark Teixeira (@teixeiramark25) May 20, 2013
Girardi said that Teixeira will continue to hit in simulated games for a while longer because it allows him to bat both left-handed and right-handed.
At the New Era Pinstripe Bowl charity golf tournament on Monday in Rye, N.Y., Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that he does not believe Teixeira is out of the woods yet.
"But I know he feels really good," Cashman said. "I know he feels strongly that this is going to be successful and that's great. That's worth something, but at the end of the day, I've been disappointed before. So think the worst and hope the best."
In that worst-case scenario department, Cashman said that Teixeira's injury might be comparable to the lingering one that limited outfielder Brett Gardner to just 16 games and 31 at-bats last season.
"Brett Gardner had a wrist issue. Probably not the same one, but it can't be too dissimilar either," Cashman said. "He went through two rehabs where he came out in this category no problem. Batting practice, all that different stuff.
"And then he got through game one, and after two games, became sore. And then game over. Until [Teixeira is] actually rehabbing and in games, we'll hold our breath for a while. When he goes through his Spring Training and if it goes fine, then I believe that we're OK. I'm not going to count my chickens yet."
Youk, A-Rod taking ground balls in Florida
BALTIMORE -- Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis has resumed taking batting practice and ground balls at the club's complex in Tampa, Fla., while Alex Rodriguez is also taking ground balls at third base in his return to on-field action.
Manager Joe Girardi seemed encouraged by Youkilis' progress as he comes back from a lumbar spine sprain, but indicated that it is not likely that Youkilis would be activated before the Yankees return home in a week.
"He hasn't played a lot," Girardi said. "Is it possible we see him on this road trip? Maybe, but I would expect to see him maybe a little bit the following week if everything goes OK."
Girardi said that Youkilis tracked pitches in a simulated game on Monday. He added that Eduardo Nunez took dry swings and ground balls, while right-hander Ivan Nova threw 3 2/3 innings in a simulated game.
"We didn't want him to go too much, 60 something pitches," Girardi said. "Everything is on the up and up a little bit."
Girardi said that the fact Rodriguez has advanced to taking ground balls at third base does not indicate he is likely to return sooner than expected. The Yankees have repeatedly said A-Rod could be back at some point after the All-Star break.
"I think it's different, taking ground balls and playing in a game," Girardi said. "It's ground balls right at you. And the swinging, the violence in the swing. There's a lot that has to happen. There's a lot of hurdles.
"[We are] two months from the All-Star break, less than that, so he's going to have to go through basically a full Spring Training. ... I don't really want to put a date on it, because I don't know how he's going to respond."
Additionally, Yankees captain Derek Jeter has been removed from his walking boot, but Girardi said that Jeter is "not [doing] a whole lot."
• Catcher Chris Stewart (left groin) hit off a tee on Monday and felt some improvement, but Girardi said that he did not feel comfortable putting Stewart in a game yet. Austin Romine has started the Yankees' last three games behind the plate, making him the first Yankees rookie to do so since Francisco Cervelli (May 8-10, 2009).
• On this date in 1948, Joe DiMaggio hit for the second of his two career cycles in a 13-2 Yankees win against the White Sox in Chicago.