Notes: Ellsbury, McCann take a seat

HOUSTON -- It's only game No. 3, but Joe Girardi felt it was time for Jacoby Ellsbury to take a day off.

The manager gave his $153 million center fielder the choice to rest Thursday against the Houston Astros or Friday in Toronto. Ellsbury said he preferred Thursday.

Ellsbury has no issues with his calf, he said. The calf kept him out a significant amount of spring training but has looked fine, even when Ellsbury has sprinted up Tal's Hill in center at Minute Maid Park. Ellsbury is 0-for-7 with a walk and stolen base as a Yankee.

On Thursday, Girardi shifted Brett Gardner in center, while Alfonso Soriano will be in left and Ichiro Suzuki will make his 2014 debut in right. Carlos Beltran is the DH.

Behind the plate, Francisco Cervelli will catch. One of the reasons Girardi chose to give Brian McCann off on Thursday as opposed to Friday is because lefty Brett Oberholtzer will take the mound. The Blue Jays will throw three righties and McCann could DH one of those games.

Girardi said he wanted to rest guys because the team will arrive in Toronto around 5 a.m. Friday. After a night game Friday, they have a day game Saturday.

Cool sight and stories: Yangervis Solarte will make his first MLB start Thursday, when he is at third base. An excited Solarte took a lineup card around the clubhouse and asked each starting player, including Derek Jeter, to sign it.

Solarte appeared in his first MLB game Wednesday, hitting into a double play that scored a run. When he went out to play third base, he said got a little freaked out when he saw Jeter at short. When relayed that story, Jeter said he could relate a little because in his first game he looked over and saw Don Mattingly at first and Wade Boggs at third.

When Solarte ran out to the field Wednesday, Jeter asked him if he was nervous. Solarte said he was not.

"I said, 'What? I'm nervous,' " Jeter said.

Kelly Johnson is expected to start all three games against Toronto, according to Girardi.

Days off: Girardi said he planned on giving Jeter and Mark Teixeira either Friday or Saturday off.

Time for a change: The Blue Jays have pushed back Friday's start time to 7:34 p.m. Originally, it was scheduled for 7 p.m. No official reason has been given, but it is apparently because of the pregame festivities.

Tanaka time: Masahiro Tanaka flew up to Toronto on Thursday in preparation for his debut. I will have a big feature previewing his first start. Jeter had some interesting thoughts on Tanaka.