ST. PETERSBURG -- Joe Girardi strongly considered giving Alex Rodriguez the day off Sunday, but the Yankees' manager instead put the three-time American League Most Valuable Player in his starting lineup at third base.

"I told him we'd talk about it," Girardi said. "I talked about it with him last night. I re-checked with him this morning; he said he feels great. My guess is I'll DH him [Monday at Baltimore]."

Girardi expressed some concern in playing veterans like Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, who served as the designated hitter on Saturday, three straight days on the hard artificial turf at Tropicana Field.

Girardi has said that it will be important for him to keep both Jeter and Rodriguez fresh this year to avoid the injury problems that hampered both stars in 2011.

"It's early," Girardi said. "Maybe if we get later in the year, it's a little bit different, but I checked with him two or three times just to make sure."

Girardi said that he decided to use Nick Swisher as the DH on Sunday, with Raul Ibanez getting an outfield start, because Swisher battled groin injuries during Spring Training.

Granderson not concerned by sore calf

ST. PETERSBURG -- Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson was limping in the clubhouse after Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, but he said his sore right calf should not present a problem.

Granderson said he fouled a ball off his leg during his second at-bat of the game, in the third inning facing Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson. Granderson struck out in the at-bat and finished the game 0-for-3 with a walk.

"It tightened up over the course of the game, but we got some ice on it," Granderson said. "It'll be good to go."

Against shift or not, Yanks aim to hit it hard

ST. PETERSBURG -- Wee Willie Keeler's famous advice to hitters was once to "hit 'em where they ain't," but with the Rays using chart data to shift effectively through two games, the Yankees haven't been able to do great job of acknowledging that historic quote.

Mark Teixeira's line drive into shallow right field turned into a double play on Saturday, ending the eighth inning of New York's 8-6 loss to Tampa Bay. It also created a resounding image of frustration, as Teixeira ripped his batting helmet off at first base in disbelief.

"You're going to hit it at people," Teixeira said. "We did score a lot of runs [12] the last two days, but we did hit a few balls into the shift. Sometimes it goes through, sometimes it doesn't."

Rays manager Joe Maddon subscribes more ardently to hit-chart data than most, and while shifts against Teixeira are nothing new, Tampa Bay has also been employing different alignments against players like Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher.

Rodriguez said after Saturday's game that his focus is on "getting a good pitch to hit and smoking it," and Yankees manager Joe Girardi said on Sunday that there is little his club can do but keep hoping to find the green turf not covered by fielders.

"It's really hard to change who you are and revamp your approach because of the way a team plays you," Girardi said. "You try to take what they give you, you try to hit the ball hard and you take your chances.

"Sometimes, part of the reason they do it is they want you to get away from what you've been doing so well for a long time. I just tell our guys to keep hitting the ball hard, and it'll work."

With the success that Maddon has enjoyed this week in frustrating the Yankees, it is possible that other clubs could take notice -- certainly, the Yankees expect that Orioles manager Buck Showalter will be shifting more in the coming week.

The Yankees do their fair share of reading the charts as well. As Girardi said, "some of the teams we face may not have hitters that are as established as our guys, but you look, and our infielders are moving a lot."

Teixeira said that because of the caliber of New York's offense, defensive shifts alone won't be able to keep the Yankees quiet.

"If we'd never scored a run, you'd go, 'Wow, this guy's the most amazing manager I've ever seen,'" Teixeira said. "But we've scored a lot of runs the last two days. In baseball, there are days when they fall in and there are days when you're playing in the exact right position."

Monday brings Pettitte's first test in Minors

ST. PETERSBURG -- Andy Pettitte will make the first start of his comeback attempt on Monday for the Class A Advanced Tampa Yankees, manager Joe Girardi said.

Pettitte, 39, will pitch in a Florida State League game against the Clearwater Threshers in Clearwater, Fla., a contest scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET.

The left-hander signed a Minor League contract worth $2.5 million on March 16 and could be ready to pitch at the Major League level in May. He pitched one scoreless inning for New York this spring.

Bombers bits

• The previous two times the Yankees started the season 0-2, the campaign worked out rather well for New York. The Bombers started 1998 with an 0-3 record before winning 114 games and the World Series, and their 0-2 start in 2009 resulted in 103 wins and the club's 27th championship.

• The Double-A Trenton Thunder put on a show in Saturday's action, slugging a club-record seven home runs in an 11-2 win over New Hampshire. Cody Johnson and Robert Lyerly each homered twice, while Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa and Jose Gil also went deep.

• On this date in 1985, 46-year-old Phil Niekro served as the Yankees' Opening Day starter at Fenway Park, allowing five runs in four innings as New York lost, 9-2. He remains the third-oldest Opening Day starter of all time, behind 47-year-old Jack Quinn of the 1931 Dodgers and 46-year-old Charlie Hough of the 1994 Marlins. On this date in 2003, Hideki Matsui hit a grand slam in his Yankee Stadium debut as the Yankees defeated the Twins, 7-3.