NEW YORK -- Manager Joe Girardi has stuck with Ben Francisco in his lineup against left-handed pitching, hoping that he will be able to turn around a slow start to his season.
"Francisco is a guy that we expect is going to do more damage," Girardi said. "He's hit some balls hard, and hopefully that gets him going."
Girardi batted Francisco second on Thursday against Blue Jays left-hander Mark Buehrle, and Francisco legged out a seventh-inning bunt single in four at-bats.
Francisco, who was picked up this spring after requesting his release from the Indians, is batting just .103 with the Yanks.
Girardi admits that his lineup has been short-handed and lefty-heavy without Kevin Youkilis available due to a sore back -- to say nothing of the absences of Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter.
"I think part of it is [that] Youk has been out some of those [games]," Girardi said. "We have a lot of left-handed hitters in our lineup. Our right-handers haven't hit [lefties] as well as I believe they're going to hit [them]. It's just a combination of a few things."
Balky back keeping Youk on the bench
NEW YORK -- Kevin Youkilis tried to take swings in the batting cage at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, but his sore lower back is still not game-ready, manager Joe Girardi said.
"It's just stiff," Girardi said. "He's not rotating the way he wants to rotate, which is kind of important for a hitter. He's just not ready to go."
Youkilis has not been able to play since Saturday, in Toronto, because of the soreness, which he said is similar to the back issues he had previously.
"I think it's just something that creeps up," Girardi said. "People that have some back issues, it can happen after a day off. A lot of times, there's no rhyme or reason."
Girardi does not know of any tests scheduled for Youkilis, and although the Yankees are not yet planning to place Youkilis on the disabled list, that could change if he is not ready to play before the Yankees face left-hander J.A. Happ on Saturday.
"We're facing another lefty on Saturday. I'd definitely like to have him back by then," Girardi said. "I guess if something was to happen, you might think about [the disabled list], but we believe that he's going to be back within 15 days."
• With the NFL Draft taking place on Thursday in New York, it is notable that the Yankees had two first-round picks who went on to play in the NFL: John Elway in 1981 and Brandon Weeden in 2002. The Yanks also selected Bo Jackson in the second round in 1982 and Deion Sanders in the 30th round in 1988.
• When Hiroki Kuroda allowed a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion in the first inning on Thursday, it continued a familiar trend for the Yanks. Entering play Thursday, they had allowed 16 of their 84 runs this season in the first inning.
• On this date in 1967, Whitey Ford recorded his 236th and final career victory, an 11-2 win over the White Sox in the Bronx. On this date in 1999, Joe DiMaggio's monument was dedicated at Yankee Stadium, with Paul Simon singing "Mrs. Robinson" in center field.