Twins-Yankees prevew

NEW YORK -- The question who's on first has been a popular one for the New York Yankees.

Injuries and a lack of production have turned the position into a revolving door and a source of frustration for the Yankees.

On Saturday, the Yankees get their primary first baseman back from the disabled list as Mark Teixeira is expected to be activated when New York continues its three-game series with the Minnesota Twins.

The last time Teixeira played was June 3 when his right knee locked up in Baltimore. The diagnosis was torn cartilage and the options were surgery or rehab.

Teixeira chose the rehab and following three games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, he returns looking to improve on his sub-par numbers of a .180 batting average, a .535 OPS which is among the worst in baseball at first base.

"Our thought is that he's going to be Mark," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "I know he's off to a slow start and I really don't believe that's going to continue. It may take him a few days to get going, I understand that. He hasn't had a lot of at-bats in the last few weeks but we expect him to be Mark."

The switch-hitter has 13 hits since May 1 and last homered April 13. His 141 at-bat drought without homering is the longest of his career.

A year ago, Teixeira had a decent bounce back season by hitting .261 with 31 home runs but his year essentially ended with a broken leg that was diagnosed about a month after the initial injury Aug. 17

The Yankees have used six different first baseman including Teixeira and those players have combined for a .184 average with five home runs and 22 RBIs.

During Teixeira's absence, Rob Refsnyder received his first opportunity at first base while the Yankees also signed Ike Davis. Refsnyder, who has also played second base and right field with the Yankees, has batted .286 with eight RBIs in 21 games.

"I think you saw when Mark's on and hitting the ball, the Yankees are a team at its best," Refsnyder said. "So I'm excited for Mark to get back."

Regardless of how Teixeira does, the Yankees will be trying to go over .500. They improved to 36-36 with Friday's 5-3 victory highlighted by Aroldis Chapman throwing 10 of his 11 pitches more than 100 mph and Refsnyder's tiebreaking single.

Teixeira will be playing defense behind Michael Pineda, who will pitch on six days' rest and face the Twins for the second straight start. He put the Yankees in a 4-0 deficit by allowing four runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings but did not get the decision when the team rallied for a 7-6 victory.

This month, Pineda is 1-1 with a 3.38 ERA in four starts and has 29 of his team-leading 88 strikeouts in those outings.

The Twins (23-50) became the first team to reach 50 losses as they tied a season-high with three errors. Minnesota is 4-17 against the AL East and 8-25 on the road.

"We didn't play very cleanly," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said.

Ervin Santana pitches for the Twins on Saturday and looks to get consecutive wins over the Yankees for the first time in nearly 10 years. Santana started his career with the Angels in 2005 and in his first four starts against New York, he was 4-0 with a 3.47 ERA.

He is 2-9 with a 5.98 ERA in his last 14 starts against New York. Before Santana allowed two earned runs and six hits in 7 1/3 innings Sunday in Minnesota, the right-hander had not beaten the Yankees since getting a 1-0 victory in New York on Aug. 1, 2008 for the Angels.

Santana looks to continue his excellent control of late. Santana has 21 walks in 72 2/3 innings but none in his last three starts.

It is the first time in his career he has not issued a walk in three straight outings.

"I feel more like myself right now," Santana said.

Minnesota will likely be without third baseman Trevor Plouffe for the second straight game. Plouffe strained his right groin during the seventh inning Thursday against Philadelphia and is day-to-day.

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