A-Rod back after missing week with hurt thumb

NEW YORK — Thumbs up, New York Yankees fans. Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup.

Rodriguez is hitting third in the batting order and playing third base Saturday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays. He had missed the past six games with a sprained left thumb.

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“The injury should heal,” manager Joe Girardi said. “The problems that you run into is that you could have to go after a ground ball. And you could re-aggravate it a little bit. You’d like to be able to say you could control it, not aggravate it, but that’s not the way the game work.

“If you’re a catcher, it’s really pretty hard not to aggravate it. He’s got a better chance of it not happening but you know we’re just going to have to manage it.”

Girardi wasn’t sure if Rodriguez could play until the 36-year-old went through a pregame workout. But Rodriguez made it through without an issues or setbacks, so Girardi put him in the lineup.

“Thumbs up guys, thumbs up,” Rodriguez told reporters before Saturday’s game.

Rodriguez originally injured his thumb Aug. 21 as he backhanded a ground ball off Joe Mauer’s bat in Minnesota. Before that, he had missed 38 games following surgery to repair an MCL tear in his right knee.

“I think you’re going to feel something for the rest of the year,” Rodriguez said Friday. “You’ve got to pretty much concede to that. That’s just not gonna go away but that’s just going to have to be fine.”

Rodriguez had a cortisone shot Monday after an MRI revealed a Grade 1 sprain. The cortisone shot has lessened the pain, according to Rodriguez, who will wear extra padding for his thumb to ease the pain associated with swinging a bat. Rodriguez said he feels the most pain when making contact.

“It’s not something you have to worry about reinjuring or making it worse,” Rodriguez said. “So it’s just a matter of me having to play through the pain.”

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Rodriguez is batting .289 with 14 homers and 53 RBIs — the lowest production of his 18-year career. He has not failed to hit at least 30 home runs and knock in 100 runs since 1997.

In other injury news, first baseman Mark Teixeira remains out of the lineup with a bruised right knee.

He told reporters before the game his knee “was feeling a little better.”

Teixeira was injured after getting hit by Red Sox right-hander Alfredo Aceves Thursday night in Boston.

“It’s just getting through the soreness, and the soreness will go away,” Girardi said. “It’s not like he has a sprained ankle or anything. he has a bruise, and that will go away.”

Nick Swisher, normally the Yankees’ everyday right fielder, gets the start at first base in Teixeira’s place.

Rookie Jesus Montero will make his Yankee Stadium debut Saturday. He will serve as the designated hitter and hit seventh. Montero went 0-for-3 with a run scored and was hit by a pitch in his major league debut Thursday night in Boston.

Also, shortstop Derek Jeter is getting the day off. Eduardo Nunez will start in his place.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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