BOSTON -- J.R. Murphy got the call for his first Major League start on Saturday, as the rookie catcher saw his name in the lineup against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
The 22-year-old Murphy, ranked as the Yankees' No. 12 prospect, had played in five previous September games. He paired with left-hander CC Sabathia and went 0-for-2 with a walk in the Yankees' 5-1 loss.
"I was excited before the game," Murphy said. "My nerves calmed down after the first inning and I was fine. I settled down and it was a lot of fun. I wish we were on the winning end."
Murphy has been mostly catching bullpen sessions this month, but Chris Stewart has already played in 100 games, well exceeding manager Joe Girardi's original estimate of about 60. Yankees catcher Austin Romine is also recovering from a concussion.
"It's been a grueling schedule here, and I just felt that we had to give Stew a little bit of a break today," Girardi said. "I won't be afraid to use him later. I'm not ready to use Romine yet, so the kid was called upon."
A second-round pick (76th overall) in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, Murphy played in two games against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium earlier this month.
He batted a combined .269 with 12 home runs and 46 RBIs this season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Girardi described Murphy as a "cool and calm" receiver behind the plate who "didn't look overwhelmed" by the situation.
"I don't think he gets too emotional back there," Girardi said. "He's improved a ton as a catcher over the couple of years that I've seen him. He swings the bat well. I think he retains [information] pretty well, and obviously that's important."
Sprained right thumb sidelines Soriano
BOSTON -- Alfonso Soriano was a late scratch from the Yankees' lineup with a sprained right thumb, the team announced Saturday.
Soriano was batting cleanup in manager Joe Girardi's original batting order against Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester. The change was announced shortly before the scheduled first pitch.
"To me, it's very tough to watch the game," said Soriano, who received treatment on his thumb during the Yankees' 5-1 loss at Fenway Park. "We lost, too, which makes it worse. There's nothing I can do about the game today, so I hope tomorrow we've got a better chance to win and play better."
Soriano said that he bent his thumb back while making a dive in the outfield on Thursday against the Orioles in Baltimore. He went 1-for-4 in the Yankees' 8-4 loss to the Red Sox on Friday, and Soriano said he may have aggravated the thumb by sliding head first into second base on a stolen base.
"My hand last night was feeling good," Soriano said. "This morning, my thumb is a little swollen. When I go to the cage, I'm not feeling good. I just talked to Joe and said my hand is a little swollen and I cannot go today."
Since joining the Yankees in a July 26 trade from the Cubs, Soriano leads the Majors with 15 homers and 47 RBIs over that span.
Vernon Wells replaced Soriano in left field, with Ichiro Suzuki, who was slated to begin the day on the bench, replacing Wells in right field. Girardi said that he is not sure if Soriano will be available for Sunday's series finale.
"The swelling is going down, I hope, and I'll be available to take my at-bats," Soriano said. "It's only like two weeks left. I just want to keep playing and try to help the team to win."
Phelps reinstated from DL to bolster bullpen
BOSTON -- The Yankees made a roster move to assist their taxed bullpen on Saturday, reinstating right-hander David Phelps from the 60-day disabled list.
Phelps has been on the shelf since July, when he suffered a right forearm strain. He then re-injured the arm while rehabbing in August.
Though Phelps' stamina has not been built up for a spot start or long-relief role, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he could use Phelps "as a one-inning guy, maybe a little bit more than that."
"It's nice to be here in this fight right now," said Phelps, who is 6-5 with a 5.01 ERA in 18 appearances (12 starts) for the Yankees this season.
Girardi said that Phelps has faced some professional hitters under simulated conditions down in Tampa, Fla., including Travis Hafner, so he might have to be trusted right away against the Red Sox.
"I'm not so sure we have a chance to be patient with him. He might be thrown right in the fire," Girardi said.
In a corresponding roster move, the Yankees transferred shortstop Derek Jeter to the 60-day disabled list.
• Girardi said that he would prefer to use Alex Rodriguez as a designated hitter on Sunday, rather than give Rodriguez an extended break with Monday's day off.
"I don't think we have the luxury of giving people two days off, but we'll see how he feels," Girardi said.
Rodriguez has served as the DH in four straight games to protect a tight left hamstring. He said that he will not be able to play third base until Tuesday at Toronto, at the earliest.
• With Brendan Ryan's home run on Saturday at Fenway Park, the Yankees have had a Major League-leading 23 different players hit home runs this season. That sets a new franchise record, surpassing the marks of 22 set in 1965 and equaled in 2000.
• On this date in 1999, the Yankees tied a then-team record by hitting two grand slams in the same game, with Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill clubbing blasts in a 10-6 win over the Blue Jays in Toronto.