Banged-up Didi held out to get some rest

Banged-up Didi held out to get some rest

NEW YORK -- For a brief period, Didi Gregorius' hot bat had the Yankees slotting him as their cleanup hitter. Now, the shortstop's battered body has convinced manager Joe Girardi that they may have been pushing him too hard.

Girardi said that Gregorius seems to be "really beat up," benching him for Monday's 8-2 loss in the series opener against the Dodgers. Gregorius was 0-for-4 in Sunday's loss to the Rays and is just 3-for-34 (.088) in nine September games.

"He needs a day," Girardi said. "Whether it's being hit in the arm, hit in the rib cage, from the foul balls -- I think it's affecting him swinging the bat some. Maybe even a couple days off might help him."

Gregorius has set career highs with 17 home runs and 64 RBIs in 135 games this season, leading the Yankees with 49 extra-base hits, but he was hitless in his last 15 at-bats entering Monday. Ronald Torreyes took over as the Yanks' shortstop in Gregorius' place.

The trainer's office has been a frequent haunt of late for Gregorius, who has been hit by pitches twice recently, on Aug. 27 and Sept. 3 against the Orioles. The Rays' Alex Cobb also drilled him in the right rib cage with an errant pickoff throw on Sept. 8 in New York.

"I'm trying to play through it," Gregorius said. "He gave me the day off today so I'm ready tomorrow if I'm in the lineup. I think [the problem has been] more by the ribs, because it's my oblique area, swinging-wise. I'm not going to blame that for why I'm in a slump. Everyone knows I'm in a slump, but it's not because of that.

"... On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd probably say a 5 or 6. I've been playing with it. It's not like something I can't play on."

Having Gregorius back in the batting order for the next two games against Los Angeles would be useful to Girardi. The Yankees will be facing a pair of left-handers in Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw, and Gregorius is a .311 (37-for-119) hitter against lefties this year, the fourth-best average by a left-handed batter in the Majors.

"I know we're facing a bunch of left-handers, so he's going to play against them eventually," Girardi said. "But he just really needed today."

Worth noting

Outfielder Aaron Hicks (Grade 2 strain of left hamstring) said that he jogged on the field and hit in the batting cage on Monday. He expects to report to the Yankees' Tampa, Fla., complex on Thursday and could be activated as soon as Sept. 20, when the Yankees open a series with the Rays at Tropicana Field.

"I feel good. Now I'm just waiting for all my stuff to be done and for me to get out of here," Hicks said. "As of now, my legs and body feel good."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. 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.