Holliday to see more playing time at first

Holliday to see more playing time at first

NEW YORK -- The Yankees' original plan was to have Matt Holliday serve primarily as their designated hitter, but given Greg Bird's uncertain return date from the disabled list, manager Joe Girardi has become more open to the idea of giving Holliday frequent reps at first base.

Holliday was in the lineup as the Yanks' first baseman on Friday against the Astros, marking the third time he has done so this year and for the first time in an American League park. He is a relative novice at first base; his only other experience came in 10 games last year with the Cardinals.

"I'm just kind of trying to slow the game down a little bit and not let it get too fast, and make sure that I'm ready for certain situations," Holliday said. "Making sure I'm in the right place for cutoffs or just really left-handers hitting, when you're holding the runner and feeling comfortable with him standing what feels like 10 feet away. That's probably the thing that takes the most getting used to."

Holliday's start came after Chris Carter went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts in New York's 3-2 loss to the Astros on Thursday. Holliday said that Girardi told him after the game that he would be playing first base on Friday; Holliday started once against the Cubs and once against the Reds on the Yanks' last road trip.

"We felt he did a good enough job the last couple days that he was out there and felt comfortable enough that we can do it from time to time," Girardi said.

Girardi said that he has not lost faith that Carter will eventually drive the ball with regularity, but the Yankees haven't seen it yet. Carter has managed just a .200/.279/.300 split with one homer and seven RBIs in 22 games.

"We'll do this some, but I still plan on playing Chris Carter there," Girardi said. "I think you go by their track records. You go by the people that have seen him a lot more than I have, and obviously believe that he is going to hit one of these streaks."

Holliday said that the more he plays the position, the more comfortable he expects to be. The Yanks had him take grounders there occasionally in the spring, but with Bird and Carter on the roster, Holliday did not play a defensive inning during Spring Training.

"I assumed it was because I probably wasn't going to do it during the season," Holliday said. "That kind of thing can change, obviously, with Birdie's injury and some things; [Tyler] Austin's injury. I think circumstances have changed since then."

Bird is continuing a rest program at Yankee Stadium, as he continues to feel discomfort from a right ankle bone bruise initially sustained at the end of the spring. Austin has resumed taking batting practice in Tampa, Fla., but because the Yanks transferred him to the 60-day disabled list, he will likely not return until June at the earliest.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.