NEW YORK -- Yankees catcher Russell Martin returned to the starting lineup for the series finale against the Rangers on Thursday, confident that the recent back ailments which forced him to miss seven of the last eight games have subsided.
Martin last started Sunday and was supposed to start Monday's game, but he was a late scratch after manager Joe Girardi didn't like what he saw from him in batting practice.
What's the difference now?
"The difference is now I feel I am good," Martin said. "Before I was just saying I felt good."
Francisco Cervelli had taken over the duties behind the plate with Martin on the shelf, batting .208 (5-for-24) in those seven starts. Martin, who's mired in a 2-for-31 slump and has seen his batting average dip to .232, says he has full range of motion and expects no problems with his previously stiff back.
"I'm still going to heat it up and do all the things to make sure I get it extra loose and make sure I stretch it really well," he said before facing Rangers starter C.J. Wilson. "Just more like prevention stuff now."
In the last game before a six-game Interleague road trip, Jorge Posada started at designated hitter even though an opposing lefty was on the mound, and Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner received the day off.
Nick Swisher found himself back in the leadoff spot after going 1-for-3 with two walks from that spot in Wednesday's 12-4 win.
Yanks disagree with Torrealba over sign stealing
NEW YORK -- As the Yankees have pushed across 24 runs in the first two games of this series, Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba has grown a bit suspicious -- paranoid, some Yankees players would say -- that the opposition is stealing his signs.
He confronted Mark Teixeira about it on Tuesday, with the first baseman saying he "didn't have anything." Then, while making a trip to the mound in the fifth inning of the Yankees' 12-4 win on Wednesday night, he shouted at Andruw Jones for allegedly picking up signs and relaying pitch selection while the outfielder was on second base.
That part seemed to irk Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
"He's yelling at one of our guys, and I don't appreciate that," the former catcher said. "I'm going to protect my guys."
Jones said Torrealba "tried to make some excuses for them getting their butt kicked."
"He came out there and yelled that out, and I didn't appreciate it that much," Jones said. "But it's not an excuse when the guy's leaving pitches out over the plate and they're getting hits."
Torrealba acknowledged stealing signs is common in baseball, but added: "When you do it so obvious, you have to say something."
"We could all be wrong, but we could all be right," Torrealba said. "So, I decided to say something. I don't take it personally. I don't take any credit from them. I don't even think they needed to do that. We were making a lot of bad pitches, and they hit a lot of mistakes."
The Yankees, winners of five of their last six, have notched 12 runs in each of the first two games of this series while cranking out 26 hits. On Wednesday, they hit five homers and tagged Rangers starter Derek Holland for six runs in five innings.
Texas skipper Ron Washington, whose club has dropped four straight, said even if the Yankees are stealing signs, "It's not a story."
"You think that's a secret that guys are doing that?" Washington said. "There's a lot of teams out there doing that."
And there's apparently plenty of paranoia.
Teixeira recalled a time in 2005 when he was with the Rangers, and White Sox starter Mark Buehrle blanked them his first time at home, then got lit up in Arlington the next time he faced them. Buehrle had the wild notion that Texas was getting signs from someone in center field, who was then relaying them to the scoreboard operator, who was putting flashing lights in the scoreboard to tip off the home hitters.
"I think sometimes guys get paranoid," Teixeira said. "And you know what, he's a competitor. Torrealba is trying to win a game, and he's trying to figure something out. But I didn't have anything."
Cashman proving he's willing to take chances
NEW YORK -- The Yankees are looking for upgrades wherever they can get them.
It's no secret. They showed that recently by signing Cory Wade -- a reliever who hadn't pitched in the big leagues since 2009 and was coming off shoulder surgery -- and placing him on their 25-man roster. And they showed that by giving Brian Gordon -- a 32-year-old outfielder-turned-pitcher with all of three relief appearances in the big leagues -- the start against the Rangers on Thursday.
On a win-now team that's trying to make up for a wide array of injuries, and looking to weave through what's still a rather thin trade market, roster additions are to be expected -- of any size.
"I've told everybody out there, I'm up for the incremental upgrades or the significant upgrades," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. "As you see by the moves we're making, they're the incremental upgrades right now. I feel like our roster's better on June 16 than it was on June 13 right now."
In order to make room for Gordon on the active roster, the Yankees optioned right-hander Lance Pendleton to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and released right-hander Amauri Sanit, who made four relief appearances -- giving up 10 runs in seven innings -- before landing on the disabled list with an elbow injury. Pendleton had a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings this year.
Last week, the Phillies sent out a league-wide e-mail notifying clubs that Gordon was available after going 5-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) for their Triple-A club.
When Bartolo Colon strained his hamstring and was placed on the DL on Sunday, Cashman looked at Gordon's numbers, liked what he saw, and -- after analyzing video with several members of his staff -- decided to make the move.
"I'm not afraid to take a chance," he said before Gordon's 5 1/3-inning, two-run performance on Thursday. "So, I'm just taking a chance."
Cashman was asked if he'd consider taking a chance on lefty Scott Kazmir, whom the Angels released on Wednesday after he posted a 17.02 ERA in five Minor League starts and has been on a downward spiral for several years.
The Yankees' GM said he hasn't looked into that yet. But, eventually, he will.
The Yanks are as open-minded as anyone right now.
"I think we're using all our resources," Cashman said, speaking in generalities. "We're a fully operational baseball operation system. I'm not afraid of a waiver claim. I'm not afraid of a guy with an opt-out. I'm not afraid to take a guy who all odds are against. And I'm certainly not afraid of a significant upgrade at the same time."
Torre, Piniella to take part in Old Timers' Day
NEW YORK -- Hall of Famers Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Rich "Goose" Gossage and Reggie Jackson, along with David Cone, Bill "Moose" Skowron and others will headline the Yankees' 65th annual Old-Timers' Day, which will take place June 26.
Former Yankees managers Joe Torre and Lou Piniella, and former center fielder Bernie Williams will be making their Old-Timers' Day debuts, with Piniella wearing a Yankees uniform for the first time since 1988.
Torre, Piniella, Williams, Clay Bellinger, Brian Boehringer, Jose Cardenal and George Frazier will be first-time participants in the game.
They will be joined on the baselines by the widows of five former Yankees: Arlene Howard, widow of Elston Howard; Helen Hunter, widow of Jim "Catfish" Hunter; Jill Martin, widow of Billy Martin; Diana Munson, widow of Thurman Munson; and Kay Murcer, widow of Bobby Murcer.
The Yankees will also hold a special tribute for head athletic trainer Gene Monahan, who will retire following the season after 49 years with the organization.
Ceremonies will take place at 11:30 a.m. ET, with the Old-Timers' game to follow. Both will be aired on the YES Network, which will also carry the Yankees 2:05 p.m. game against the Rockies.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he expects reserve infielder Eric Chavez (bone bruise on foot) to return to the club by the second or third week of July. "Just my guess," he cautioned.
Regarding setup man Rafael Soriano (right elbow inflammation), Cashman said: "We got a legitimate chance of getting him right after the All-Star break."
When asked about catching prospect Jesus Montero coming up if Russell Martin's back problems continue to be an issue, Cashman said that would be his choice if the injury puts Martin on the shelf long-term. But he re-iterated that he only wants Montero up if he's playing every day.
"Is Montero better than [backup catcher Francisco] Cervelli? Yeah, he is," Cashman said. "But Montero's not on the roster right now, and if Russell Martin is not going to be DL'd, and it's a day-to-day thing, then I'm not going to bring a guy for a day or two."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Matt Fortuna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.