Rookie SS Gonzalez starts for Jeter, Kennedy enters game in relief

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Rookie Alberto Gonzalez started at shortstop for the New York Yankees in place of the injured Derek Jeter against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.

Gonzalez, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the Randy Johnson trade last year, was recalled before the game from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, where he was hitting .145 in five games. In a September call up last season, he hit .071 in 12 games.

To make roster space for Gonzalez, the Yankees optioned first baseman-outfielder Shelley Duncan to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Duncan had appeared in just two games, going 1-for-5.

"We didn't bring him up here to sit," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We like him and we want to see him. I liked his defense and also liked his ability to handle the bat. When we needed to get a runner over or get a runner in, he was pretty good at it. He was able to bunt for us and do some things. He doesn't have the thump that our other shortstops necessarily have, but I think he can handle the bat and help us."

Jeter left in the third inning Monday with a strained left quadriceps and is not expected to play in the three-game series against Kansas City.

"I think the best-case scenario would be Friday," Girardi said. "It's something where you have to be careful. You don't want to bring him back too early because you don't want it to become a six-week injury. There's nothing new. We'll see how he feels once he gets to Boston."

Yankees starter Ian Kennedy was a last-second scratch, and wound up pitching in relief.

The Yankees spokesman said the right-hander was scratched because the forecast was for rain and the team wanted to make sure they didn't waste his start. When the game went into the sixth, down 2-0, Kennedy entered the game for his first career relief appearance.

Brian Bruney, a 26-year-old right-hander, made his first career start and pitched two scoreless innings. He has an 8-10 career record in 157 career relief appearances. He was 3-2 with a 4.68 ERA in 58 games last season.

Billy Traber and Kyle Farnsworth followed Bruney. Farnsworth allowed two runs, including a solo home run by John Buck.

Catcher Jorge Posada was also out. He was replaced in the seventh inning Tuesday by Jose Molina because of a shoulder injury on Tuesday. He had a MRI Wednesday.

"It's a strained shoulder," Posada said. "It's good news it is not worse. I'm worried because your shoulder is part of what you do. I had surgery in '99 and I was worried it was going to be the same, but it wasn't.

The MRI results were sent to Yankees physician Dr. Stuart Hershon and Dr. James Andrews, who performed the shoulder surgery on Posada's surgery in 1999.

"He doesn't have pain, that's the good thing," Girardi said. "There's no damage. He just loosened up his shoulder when he made that funny throw and it's got to get back to where it was. I really believe he'll be back there in a week and hopefully a little bit sooner. You've just got to wait and see."

Girardi said Molina would catch in Posada's absence. He said if something happened to Molina, that Posada could catch.

"Jose is an accomplished catcher," Girardi said. "That's why he's here. You can live with Jose."

He also said Posada is available to be the designated hitter or pinch hit.

Besides the injuries to Posada and Jeter, infielder Morgan Ensberg has a bad left ankle, which he hurt Monday against Tampa Bay.

Girardi said he didn't know the extent of Ensberg's injury.

"He turned it Monday when he hit the bag," Girardi said. "Now you start running out of infielders. We had to do something."