Mark Teixeira returns to lineup

NEW YORK -- Dropped as low as seventh in the batting order for the first time in eight years, Mark Teixeira didn't think it would make much difference on what pitches he'll see.

"I'm still Mark Teixeira," the New York Yankees first baseman said. "I still put up some pretty good numbers in my career, so I don't think they're going to just start underhanding it to me. I wish they would, but I don't think that's going to happen."

Bothered by coughing and a bronchial illness since the first week of the season, the two-time All-Star is batting .226 -- 54 points below his career average -- with five homers and 20 RBIs.

He was limited to one pinch-hit appearance as the Yankees lost two of three to Cincinnati during the weekend series, then returned to the lineup at first base for Monday night's game against Kansas City.

"Everyone knows I'm not 100 percent," Teixeira said. "I've just been really trying to grind it the last, well, really the whole season basically. It just makes you appreciate when you are healthy.

"I'd love to be able to say that I'm 100 percent and strong, but I haven't been driving the ball like I should be this year. It's been a rough go. It really doesn't matter where I hit, anyway."

Teixeira had not started a game that low in the batting order since May 13, 2004, when he hit eighth for Texas at Tampa Bay, according to STATS LLC.

Alex Rodriguez appeared to pout when then-manager Joe Torre dropped him from cleanup to eighth for Game 4 of the 2006 AL division series against Detroit.

"It's really not a big deal to me. We all know I'm not 100 percent," Teixeira said. "At the end of the day, we have to win games. If switching up the lineup helps, then great, because we've got to start winning."

New York began the night 21-20, 5½ games out of first in the AL East. The Yankees had just six hits in their last 59 at-bats (.102) with runners in scoring position. Teixeira was hitting just .205 with RISP.

"Maybe people will stop asking him so many questions all the time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's been the focus of our lineup, and if the other guys were hitting he probably wouldn't be a focus. I mean, there's a lot of other guys that are struggling in those situations, some worse than he is. So I just thought, you know what, he hasn't played in three days. I'm going to move him down a little bit and see what happens."

Teixeira said the three days off from the starting lineup helped him feel a little better. He's stopped taking antibiotics, and doctors have said rest is the best option.

"I've talked to every doctor out there," Teixeira said, "and most of them said the same thing: Rest would have helped right from the beginning. That didn't happen, and that's why stuff like this kind of hangs around."

Rodriguez also has been scuffling. He's hitting .270 with five homers and 15 RBIs, and has just one home run since April 27.

"These are the guys that are expected to be huge in our order," Girardi said.

Raul Ibanez, with nine homers and 27 RBIs, was moved up to fifth. Teixeira had hit fifth 33 times, with three games in the No. 3 hole and one start at cleanup.

"You always have to be concerned how a player handles it," Girardi said. "I'm not so sure that you would say that Mark likes it, but he said OK. And I asked him a couple different times."

NOTES: Girardi said OF Brett Gardner (elbow) and RHP David Robertson (ribcage) likely will start rehabilitation assignments Thursday in Tampa, Fla.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.