Pregame notes: Gardner, Hafner on bench

NEW YORK -- Derek Jeter is in the Yankees lineup Thursday for the first time this season, but Brett Gardner and Travis Hafner are not.

Gardner suffered a contusion on his right shin after being hit by a pitch Wednesday night, and Hafner suffered a contusion on his left foot working in the batting cage during Wednesday's game. Both went for X-rays, which were negative. But manager Joe Girardi decided to sit them Thursday, at least at the start. It remains to be seen if they will be available off the bench.

"I'll see after they go through some treatment, how they feel later today, moving around a little bit," Girardi said. "But I didn’t think either one were starters today."

Gardner was in the Yankees clubhouse Thursday morning during the period reporters were allowed inside. He wasn't sure of his status for Thursday's game, either.

"To be honest, I don’t know yet. I can't answer that," Gardner said. "I have to get some treatment and get it loosened up. My legs are a big part of my game, and if I can’t run, there’s no sense in playing. Hopefully I’ll be able to run."

On the bright side, the injuries to Gardner and Hafner prompted the Yankees to bring back Jeter at least a day earlier than they had originally planned.

Jeter will serve as the Yankees' designated hitter Thursday. Ichiro Suzuki moves over to center field, in place of Gardner and Vernon Wells slots in at right.

BACK IN THE GAME: After starting just one of the team's previous five games, Wells is in the starting lineup Thursday, and batting cleanup.

Wells went 2-for-2 on Wednesday after Hafner was forced to exit the game. He is 10-for-20 in seven games in July, after batting just .133 in the month of June. And he is 9-for-27 (.333) in his career against Kansas City's starter on Thursday, Ervin Santana.

ON THE MOVE? Eduardo Nunez returned to the Yankees just five days ago after missing two months with an oblique injury. He has started four of the past five games at shortstop, and will play at short again on Thursday with Jeter serving as DH.

But Jeter will be back at shortstop as soon as Friday, so what do the Yankees do with Nunez?

General manager Brian Cashman re-opened the possibility of Nunez playing other positions on Thursday.

"I think he's an option based on whatever the other alternatives are," Cashman said. "Obviously we've run him over [at third base], and we've also had him in the outfield. I just think that comes down to a feel from [Girardi's] perspective and the staff's perspective. We believe that he's a shortstop, but because of his athleticism he can play all over."

Nunez is batting .211 with no homers and 7 RBIs in 32 games (31 starts) this season. He has made three errors in the field.

In his four years in the big leagues, Nunez has also started games at second base, third base, left field and right field.