Yanks start Jeter vs. Rays; Moeller takes over catching duties

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter started against Tampa Bay Monday night, his first appearance since leaving a game on April 7 due to a strained left quadriceps muscle.

"Obviously I'm happy to be playing again," Jeter said. "I hope everything is all right. I don't see any reason it's not going to be."

Jeter was slotted in his usual No. 2 spot in the batting order and grounded out in his first at-bat, following Johnny Damon's leadoff homer.

"I'm excited to have him back," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's also big to have one of your leaders back. He said he felt good, so let's go."

Chad Moeller, whose contract was purchased Monday from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, was the starting catcher.

Regular catcher Jorge Posada has been slowed by a right shoulder injury. He threw before the game and remains available to be the designated hitter.

"It feels good," Posada said. "Now it's just getting the strength back. I always want to be out there. I want to help the team. I'm encouraged."

Girardi has no timetable for when Posada will catch.

"Jorge is still not where he needs to be," Girardi said. "It's better. There's no pain."

Backup catcher Jose Molina also was out of the lineup. He left Sunday's game against Boston with a left hamstring injury, but was available to catch in an emergency situation.

"It's not as tight as yesterday," Molina said, "Any time you get an injury, it's frustrating. You just have to be patient and go day to day. I got up this morning, and it was a lot better."

First baseman Jason Giambi and second baseman Robinson Cano were rested Monday night. Girardi said both will back in the lineup Tuesday. Morgan Ensberg started at first, while Alberto Gonzalez played second.

Cano entered Monday hitting .170 with two RBIs in 13 games.

"Giving Robinson a mental day off," Girardi said. "He's played every game this season."

Also, third baseman Alex Rodriguez is nearing the point where he could leave the team for a short period of time for the birth of his second child.

"It's close," Girardi said.