Yankees-Rockies preview

DENVER -- First baseman Ike Davis makes his first start for the New York Yankees and Colorado Rockies starter Chad Bettis will try to regain his form from earlier in the season when the clubs conclude their two-game series.

Davis made his Yankees debut Tuesday in their 13-10 loss. He pinch hit with the bases loaded in what became a seven-run eighth and floated a run-scoring single to right. Davis stayed in the game and struck out in the ninth against closer Carlos Estevez.

Davis returned to the big leagues after undergoing left hip surgery in August to repair a torn labrum as well as multiple fractures and bone chips.

"It was pretty gnarly in there," Davis said.

He signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers in February, choosing them over the Yankees so he could continue working with his rehab specialist in Arizona. During spring training, Davis suffered a tear of his lateral collateral ligament but was able to avoid surgery.

He played 39 games with Triple-A Round Rock and hit .268 with four homers, 25 RBIs and a .786 OPS. The Rangers never brought him up, and Davis exercised an out clause in his contract to sign with the Yankees.

"It's been a long but pretty rewarding road, so far as just getting healthy and making it back to the big leagues," Davis said. "That's really all I can say is, it's just awesome."

Davis will platoon with Rob Refsnyder at first base, a position where the Yankees have been decimated. First basemen Mark Teixeira (right knee) and Chris Parmelee (right hamstring) are on the disabled list, and Dustin Ackley and Greg Byrd are out all season following shoulder surgery. The Yankees have been using Refsnyder, a second baseman by trade, at first base.

Referring to Davis, manager Joe Girardi said: "We're going to play him against right-handers, and we'll go from there. Ref's done a good job and we've asked a lot of Ref." Girardi, when asked about the appeal of Davis, said: "He understands the position. He's a left-handed bat, Ike's played in New York, so he understands that part of it. It was someone we were interested in before in the offseason."

Bettis is 4-5 with a 5.85 ERA in 13 starts. He was the Rockies' most reliable starter early in the season but has struggled recently. He is coming off a season-low three-inning outing Thursday against Pittsburgh, a start when he was given a 6-1 lead in the second but allowed four runs in the third and was lifted afterr 71 pitches.

Bettis has worked fewer than five innings in his three of his past four starts. In that span, he is 0-3 with a 11.57 ERA and has allowed 32 hits, including six homers, and seven walks with 11 strikeouts.

Asked where Bettis needs to improve, Rockies manager Walt Weiss said: "It's just location, the ball getting in the middle of the plate. Leaving the rubber sometimes a little early. We want to see the pitch mix with Chad -- use all of his pitches and he's gotten away from that a little bit."

In particular, Bettis has made sparing use of his curveball and changeup. He is a fast-worker at all times, but sometimes Bettis' tempo is too fast.

Regardless, he is a tenacious competitor, who even when he is scuffling and searching for solutions is highly respected by his teammates and by Weiss.

"The thing is with Bettis, I always feel good when he's starting," Weiss said. "I feel like we're going to win the game that day; so that hasn't changed."

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