Injuries continue to plague Yankees

The Yankees post-All-Star break were just as short-handed as before the break. The sad news came Friday night as the Yanks opened a three-game series at Fenway Park with a 4-2 loss in their first 2013 visit to the Hub that Derek Jeter was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a Grade 1 strain of his right quadriceps, the same injury that shortened his comeback from a twice-fractured left ankle to one game.

An MRI on the Captain revealed next to no healing over the past week so he goes on the DL retroactive to July 12 that will keep him away from the team at least until July 27. The Yanks dipped into the farm system to purchase the contract of utility man Brent Lillibridge from Triple A Scranton and made room for him on the 40-man roster with the release of outfielder Brennan Boesch.

Lillibridge got into the mix right away at third base and batting seventh in the order. He became the seventh different player to start at third for the Yankees this season, joining David Adams (29 games), Jayson Nix (24), Kevin Youkilis (20), Chris Nelson (9), Luis Cruz (8) and Alberto Gonzalez (5). And don’t forget, even Vernon Wells put in an inning at third base in one game as a reserve.

All of these guys have been trying to hold the position for Alex Rodriguez, who according to general manager Brian Cashman is on schedule to finish his injury-rehabilitation assignment at Scranton over the weekend and barring complications will join the Yankees in Arlington, Texas, their next stop on this trip either Monday or Tuesday. A-Rod is recuperating from offseason hip surgery.

Jeter’s second trip to the DL brought the total to four players who came off the DL only to go back on shortly after returning, following Curtis Granderson, Youkilis and Mark Teixeira.

As if the Yankees did not have enough trouble getting players on the field, Brett Gardner further hampered them in the fifth inning by getting ejected from the game for throwing a temper tantrum after being called out on strikes standing the potential tying run at second base. The Yankees had closed to 3-2 on doubles by Lyle Overbay and Chris Stewart.

With Stew on second and two out, Gardner disagreed with plate umpire Mike Everitt’s third-strike call and slammed his helmet to the angrily. Everitt tossed Gardner, whose ejection taxed a thin Yankees bench, particularly since outfielder Zoilo Almonte also left the game because of a left ankle sprain that will send him to the DL.

That will make 20 stints by 16 players for the Yankees on the DL this year. Will this ever end? Reports had outfielders Melky Mesa and Thomas Neal heading to Fenway from Scranton to replace Almonte and another player not yet identified.

Manager Joe Girardi was not happy with Gardner’s departure but was even more upset with Everitt, whom he thought pulled the trigger too quickly. Girardi saw it as a heat-of-the-moment situation that warranted a fine perhaps but not a bouncing.

Lillibridge moved from third base to right field with Luis Cruz taking over third. Ichiro Suzuki went from right to center and Gonzalez came in for Almonte in left. That left Girardi with only two players on the bench – backup catcher Austin Romine and designated hitter Travis Hafner, who does not play a position in the field.

Just the inning before he was kicked out of the game, Gardner had single-handedly manufactured a run as the Yankees scored before they had a hit off Felix Doubront, who won his third straight start. Gardner, who probably needed the four-day All-Star break more than any other Yankees player, walked, stole second and third and continued home on a wild throw to third by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Andy Pettitte had another outing that might best be described as so-so. He gave up a leadoff home run to Jacoby Ellsbury and was taken deep again in the second inning with a runner on by Jonny Gomes. Pettitte came back with four scoreless innings before leaving one out into the seventh with a runner on second his responsibility. That runner, Gomes, scored on a two-out single by Jose Iglesias off Shawn Kelley.

Pettitte (7-7) had a 4-3 record with a 3.83 ERA before he went on the DL because of a strained left trapezius muscle. In nine starts covering 55 1/3 innings since his return, Pettitte is 3-4 with a 5.04 ERA.

The Yankees tried to get Andy off the hook in the eighth when Suzuki singled and Robinson Cano doubled with one out off Craig Breslow, who rebounded to retire Wells on a soft pop to shortstop and Cruz on a ground ball. The Yanks went meekly in the ninth to the latest Red Sox closer, Koji Uehara.

The Yankees started the post-break period with a hard mission ahead and on the first night it got harder. Not only did the Red Sox win but also the second-place Rays and the third-place Orioles did as well, which leaves the Yanks seven games behind Boston, 4 ½ behind Tampa Bay and 2 ½ behind Baltimore.

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