Girardi: A-Rod not 'comfortable' at first

Manager to keep slugger strictly as club's designated hitter

Girardi: A-Rod not 'comfortable' at first

BOSTON -- Alex Rodriguez's season-long mantra has been that he will do whatever the Yankees ask of him, but after observing an awkward practice session at first base this week at Fenway Park, manager Joe Girardi said that they have decided to keep the slugger in his adopted comfort zone as a designated hitter.

Girardi had wanted to use Rodriguez at first base on Wednesday as the Yankees faced left-hander Henry Owens at Fenway Park, but Rodriguez has not played the field since May 23 and appeared uncomfortable handling the assignment. Greg Bird once again started in place of Mark Teixeira, who is out with a deep bone bruise in his right leg.

"I don't sense that he's comfortable there," Girardi said of Rodriguez. "You can tell when a guy is comfortable. He has not had a lot of work there, because we had gotten to the point where he was strictly a DH. I guess with Tex being down, there's some different things that you try to look at and different possibilities."

General manager Brian Cashman has repeatedly said that he does not believe Rodriguez is a legitimate option at first base; the Yankees gave Rodriguez a crash course at the position this spring, but Rodriguez said this week that he thought he was "terrible" at it.

"We did it early in the season, but he got really comfortable in the DH role," Girardi said. "I don't feel he's ready to go out there, so I'm not going to put him out there. I believe if he has sufficient time, it's something that he might be able to get comfortable with."

Besides Bird, Girardi could use Dustin Ackley or Brendan Ryan at first base.

Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a run scored in Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Red Sox, and Girardi said that he believes the 40-year-old is finding his stroke again, which could be a result of his recent time off while the Yankees played Interleague games in Atlanta.

"I think he looks better now," Girardi said. "I think his swings are better. I think he's using his legs better. He's hit some balls really hard. He's just missed a few. To me, he's really close again."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.