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Pregame notes: Pronk sits

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Joe Girardi gave his left-handed hitting DH, Travis Hafner, a rare night on the bench against a right-handed starter, and his reason could not have been clearer: "He's just not being productive," the manager said.

Hafner, who started out red-hot in April (.318, 6 HRs, 17 RBI), has been an ice-cube since, hitting .172 with six homers and 20 RBIs. He's had just two hits all month, and his last home run came on June 25.

“It’s been really frustrating," Hafner said. "It definitely wears on you a little bit. I feel like I can go out there and play at a high level, play like I did the first month. There’s no reason why I can’t do that."

Said Girardi: "I'm not giving up on him."

Only tonight.

--Melky Mesa is making his first major-league start tonight, playing left field in place of Vernon Wells (tonight's DH) because, as Girardi reminds us, "Hughesie is a fly ball pitcher."

-- Aside from having allowed 53 home runs over the last two seasons, the second-highest in MLB, and having the lowest groundball-to-fly-ball ratio of any major-league starter, Phil Hughes, tonight's starter, recently attained a milestone, allowing his 100th career home run (to Mike Napoli on June 1) in the lowest number of innings (691 2/3) in Yankees' franchise history.

Still, Hughes has been good against the Rangers (2-2, 2.08 ERA) and at The Ballpark (2-1, 2.00). He pitched one of his best games of the season against the Rangers on June 27 at home, going eight innings but taking the loss on the day Derek Holland threw a two-hit, 2-0 shutout, a loss that caused Joe Girardi to throw a towel onto the field after the game.

-- Rangers starter Alexi Ogando is 1-1 with an unsightly 10.13 ERA versus the Yankees, although he has not started against them since 2011.