NEW YORK -- Bartolo Colon's first start in a Yankees uniform will come on Wednesday against the Blue Jays.

Manager Joe Girardi said prior to Sunday's game against the Rangers that A.J. Burnett would be on the mound for the start of a two-game series against Toronto on Tuesday and would be followed by Colon, who's filling the rotation spot of Phil Hughes (right shoulder inflammation).

Each will be going on five days' rest.

The Yankees have an off-day on Monday before traveling to Toronto, then another one Thursday before they head to Baltimore to face manager Buck Showalter's Orioles. Girardi is still unsure how he'll slot his rotation for that weekend series.

Burnett is 3-0 with a 4.67 ERA in his first three starts of the season. Colon has given up five earned runs in 11 1/3 innings out of the bullpen (a 3.97 ERA).

Yanks hope A-Rod can return Tuesday

NEW YORK -- As anticipated, Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was out of the starting lineup in a 6-5 win over the Rangers on Sunday, one day after he exited early with stiffness in his left side.

A-Rod wasn't available for the series finale and instead got treatment consisting of ice, heat, whirlpool and ultrasound with the hope of returning against the Blue Jays on Tuesday or Wednesday.

His return date is still up in the air, but Rodriguez doesn't believe he'll have to be put on the disabled list.

"I'd like to think that I pulled myself out, hopefully with the perfect timing," said Rodriguez, who underwent a precautionary MRI exam that came back clean, according to manager Joe Girardi. "I felt that if I went out there and took a violent swing, perhaps I could've put myself at risk for maybe a couple weeks."

Rodriguez, batting an American League-leading .385 with four homers and nine RBIs through 12 games, was replaced in the seventh inning of Saturday's 5-2 win with stiffness in the oblique/lower back/rib-cage area in his left side.

The 35-year-old Rodriguez feels he probably suffered the injury while swinging but felt it most on a diving stop at third base in which he robbed Elvis Andrus of a hit in the third inning. On Sunday, Rodriguez said the area was still "a little sore."

"It kind of went from a little tight, progressed to a little bit of an oblique feeling, and then the minute I felt that I had a real chance to hurt myself and risk any significant time, I told Joe I should go take care of this," Rodriguez said.

With Rodriguez out and Brett Gardner trying to get going at the plate after a couple of days out of the lineup, Girardi shuffled his batting order against Rangers starter Alexi Ogando on Sunday.

Curtis Granderson (second) and Nick Swisher (fifth) each made season debuts in new spots in the order, while Derek Jeter hit leadoff against an opposing right-handed starter for the first time and Gardner batted ninth. Second baseman Robinson Cano hit cleanup, and A-Rod's third base fill-in, Eric Chavez, batted sixth.

The Yankees' skipper is hoping to have his third baseman back soon and thus get his lineup back to normal.

"We'll take it day by day and shoot for Tuesday," Girardi said about A-Rod. "If he can't go Tuesday, we'll shoot for Wednesday. I just didn't think it made any sense to push it. I called him today, he said he was sore and I said, 'We're going to give you the day off.'"

Rest most important for Hughes' arm

NEW YORK -- The Yankees were "pretty close" to sending struggling right-hander Phil Hughes to the Minors on Friday, manager Joe Girardi admitted.

But Hughes, who had a successful long-toss session on Sunday and will travel with the Yankees to Toronto, was instead placed on the 15-day disabled list with what is officially being called right shoulder inflammation, but is essentially a dead arm after he experienced a noticeable drop in velocity.

Girardi initially felt the Yankees would send Hughes to Triple-A, but after discussions involving Girardi, Hughes, general manager Brian Cashman and pitching coach Larry Rothschild, the club decided to let the 24-year-old recover on his own.

"We felt that it would be better to not put him in game conditions because we didn't think that he could necessarily get the work that he needed to build up physically the strength, the inflammation," Girardi said prior to the Yankees' series finale against the Rangers.

"We didn't think it was best to do that. We thought it was best to put him on the DL. We were pretty close to possibly sending him down, but just talking everything out, we realized that there's a little something going on here. Let's be smart about it."

Hughes, who went 18-8 with a 4.19 ERA in 31 games (29 starts) last year, gave up five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings against the Orioles on Thursday and now has a 13.94 ERA in 10 1/3 frames.

A lot of that stems from a slower fastball, one that is normally in the 92- to 94-mph range but was at an average of 89 mph in his last start.

One theory is that pitchers who rely heavily on their cut fastballs -- as Hughes does -- tend to lose velocity on their four-seamers.

"I think if you don't use your fastball, no matter what other pitches you're using, you can lose some of your velocity," said Girardi, who slotted Bartolo Colon into the rotation in Hughes' place. "I do believe that. I think throwing your fastball builds arm strength, and you can lose it. And sometimes when you lose that arm strength, you lose the effectiveness of your other pitches."

Gardner not dwelling on early struggles

NEW YORK -- The Yankees need Brett Gardner to get going at the plate, and they're trying to take the necessary steps to make him feel comfortable there.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi took Gardner out of the starting lineup against opposing left-handers each of the last two games, and on Sunday -- for the first time this season -- the skipper batted Gardner ninth against a right-handed starter, putting Derek Jeter in the leadoff spot instead.

"I didn't talk to [Girardi] about it, I don't need to talk to him about it," Gardner said prior to facing Alexi Ogando in the Yankees' series finale against the Rangers. "Wherever I'm hitting in the lineup, I'm going to take the same approach out there. It's just important for me to get things figured out, start getting on base for these guys and that's my game."

So far, that part of Gardner's game has been rather absent.

Through his first 13 contests, the lefty-hitting speedster has batted .146 (6-for-41) while striking out 13 times and drawing four walks. According to Fangraphs.com, 14.8 percent of Gardner's batted balls have been line drives, which would represent a career low, and 59.3 percent have been grounders, which would be a career high.

After leading the Majors last year in pitches seen per plate appearance, Gardner has swung at 22.9 percent of pitches outside the strike zone. Last year, that percentage was 18.2.

The slow start could be a fluke, it could be a result of his new method of keeping both hands on the bat during his follow-through and it could be a result of putting too much pressure on himself after being declared the Yankees' leadoff hitter against righties this spring.

"He did it last year for us from time to time, and I didn't notice it affecting him last year," Girardi said, "but you don't really ever truly know how a guy thinks when they're put in a new position. That's why we thought, 'Let's move him down and get him going.' If we get him going, we can move him back up if we want."

Gardner himself said he doesn't particularly feel any added pressure when hitting first. One problem he pointed to was not using his lower half as much as he should, causing him to frequently get behind in counts after fouling pitches off and not always take his "A" swing.

While batting .277 with a team-leading .383 on-base percentage last year, Gardner hit .243 in 58 games when batting ninth and .290 in 25 games when batting first.

"I think it's frustrating any time you struggle, especially at the start of the season," the 27-year-old outfielder said. "You'd like to get off to a good start, but what's done is done. I'm not somebody that's going to sit here and dwell on what happened yesterday or what happened in the last week or week and a half. Today is a new day, and the main thing is the team's been winning."