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Jul 15, 8:21 PM EDT

Alex Rodriguez back taking grounders at first base


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NEW YORK (AP) -- Having lost his everyday designated hitter job due to a season-long slump, Alex Rodriguez was back at first base taking ground balls before the New York Yankees opened the second half against Boston on Friday night.

Rodriguez, who turns 41 on July 27, has not been in the field this year. He had two appearances at first last season, playing the entire game April 11 against Boston and moving there for the final three outs of a blowout loss to Texas on May 23.

"Last year we were not able to get him comfortable. He wants to try it again," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He came to us, and I'm not going to deny a player a chance, in that sense, so the fact that he wants to try to get comfortable is a good sign."

Rodriguez is hitting .220 with eight homers and 28 RBIs in 186 at-bats, including .198 with five homers and 17 RBIs in 126 at-bats against righties. A-Rod's start Friday night against All-Star knuckleballer Steven Wright was just his second since June 30.

"I think it's a mental test for him, in a sense," Girardi said. "Physically I think he has the skills. He has the hands. He has the ability to throw. He understands the game. So I think it's more of a mental: Do I feel comfortable enough to go out there at first base?"

Girardi would like more options at first. Mark Teixeira, Dustin Ackley, Greg Bird and Chris Parmelee have all spent time on the disabled list. While back, Teixeira is limited by his right knee.

"Four days has been about his limit. He gets fairly sore," Girardi said.

Girardi also disclosed slumping Nathan Eovaldi will rejoin the rotation Tuesday against Baltimore, a day after Ivan Nova starts the series opener. New York began the second half at 44-44, 5 1/2 games back for the AL's second wild card.

Only four Yankees had outstanding first halves: right fielder Carlos Beltran, and relievers Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman.

"Consistency is the word that's going to ring out loud here," Girardi said. "That's how you put long streaks together where you win six out of seven, you win 14 out of 17, if your starting pitching is consistent. Our offense has to be consistent, where we put up runs on a consistent basis. And the other thing I think is really important is the bullpen besides the last three guys."

The 10-game homestand, which ends with three games against San Francisco, likely will determine whether the Yankees start to deal veterans before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.

"Yeah, I think it's fair to say that," Girardi acknowledged. "I think that we have to make up ground or win games, or we're going to be in a pretty tough position."

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