NEW YORK -- Russell Martin will spend most of Tuesday receiving treatment on his stiff lower back, but if the month were different and the stakes higher, he'd be in the Yankees' lineup.

"If we were in the playoffs, I'm playing," Martin said. "I know I could play."

Martin had to be convinced to come out of the Yankees' lineup after an unimpressive batting-practice session on Monday, and Francisco Cervelli got another starting nod on Tuesday.

The Yankees have been without Martin for six of their last seven games, having played him only on Sunday against the Indians. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he is encouraged by Martin's progress.


"He feels better," Girardi said. "Our goal is to get him to where he's swinging and he has that explosiveness and that whip. That was what I didn't see in the game. I didn't see it in BP [Monday]."

Martin acknowledges he doesn't have the same explosiveness in his hip rotation, but said that an MRI last week showed "nothing significant" and that head athletic trainer Gene Monahan thought the issue might disappear within five to 10 days.

Thus, Martin said he thought the 15-day disabled list would be excessive.

"I'd probably be sitting for about eight to nine days, feeling great," Martin said. "I'm just taking it day to day. Hopefully I play tomorrow and feel a little bit better. That's all I need to feel, a little bit better."

Nunez ready to fill in while Jeter is out

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter's first trip to the disabled list in eight years has done more than just put his 3,000th hit on hold. It has thrust his replacement, Eduardo Nunez, into the everyday spotlight that comes with playing shortstop for the Yankees.

"I feel excited," Nunez said. "I do my best every day, going to the field, giving 100 percent. I want to see people go to the game, enjoy the game, like they enjoy when Jeter plays. And I want them to enjoy when I play, too."

Nunez repeatedly stated just how bad he felt for Jeter, whose strained right calf will keep him off the field until at least June 29.

But the 23-year-old utility infielder knew the minute he saw Jeter limping off the field in the fifth inning Monday that the burden fell to him.

"The first emotion, I felt bad, for him and for the team, because that is the captain, a great player," Nunez said. "But for myself, I felt ready to play. I don't feel nothing. Go play, go do my job. That's my job, to help the team to win."

Nunez has hit .214 in 32 games entering Tuesday, when he batted eighth against the Rangers. But he has made just 13 starts, including seven at short.

Nunez has committed five errors in 12 games at short.

"I think he's done all right," manager Joe Girardi said. "In the beginning he had some throws, he was moving all over the diamond. Not playing for a month, I think, affected him. I think he's played pretty well for us. I think he's hit the ball a lot harder than what the offensive numbers indicate. He's made some hard outs for us. I've been pleased with it."

Minors vet Gordon could make Thursday start

NEW YORK -- The Yankees are set to add another contender to take a rotation turn on Thursday, reportedly closing in on a contract with veteran Minor League right-hander Brian Gordon.

Gordon, 32, was 5-0 with an International League-leading 1.14 ERA for Triple-A Lehigh Valley in the Philadelphia Phillies' organization.

A Yankees spokesman said that Gordon has an opt-out in his contract that can be exercised on Wednesday, at which time the team would discuss his situation in more detail.

Gordon stated that he has already signed with the Yankees after leaving Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., and added that he has been told to get ready for a possible start on Thursday.

In an interview with YESNetwork.com, Gordon said, "I'm really looking forward to helping the Yankees. ... I don't know if [the start is] 100 percent. I was told be mentally prepared to start on Thursday. That could change."

A converted outfielder, Gordon's only previous big league experience came in 2008 with the Rangers, when he pitched four innings.

The Yankees have been tossing around the names of long reliever Hector Noesi, plus Minor Leaguers David Phelps and Adam Warren, as other choices to take Bartolo Colon's rotation slot on Thursday.

Manager Joe Girardi acknowledged that he knew of Gordon but would not discuss the move in any detail.

"He is not our property yet, so I have not been told that he is a New York Yankee," Girardi said. "But we'll see."

Bombers bits

• With Derek Jeter shelved, Brett Gardner got the nod Tuesday as the Yankees' leadoff hitter. Gardner hit just .167 in 10 games as the No. 1 hitter in New York's order earlier this season, and manager Joe Girardi said he will need to decide if Gardner should lead off against left-handers. Girardi suggested he may also have Curtis Granderson lead off.

• Even as Russell Martin battles stiffness in his lower back, Girardi said he would prefer to use Martin in a catching situation behind Francisco Cervelli rather than ask Jorge Posada to put the gear on. Posada has not caught at all in 2011, as the Yankees have concerns about the 39-year-old suffering further concussions.

• The Yankees' athletic training duo of Gene Monahan and Steve Donohue were inducted into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday in a ceremony at Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant in midtown.

• Prior to Tuesday's game, the Yankees honored five winners of the 2011 54th Puerto Rican Day Parade scholarship: Tara Mercado, Destiny Rosado, Michelle Rosario, Mariana Rivera and Jessinia Toro of Hostos Community College. The Yankees Foundation donated $10,000 to the scholarship fund.