Yankees trolling for help at corners

TAMPA, Fla. -- In trying to think "out of the box" to patch together his injury-ridden lineup, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman first had conversations with the agents for former All-Star first baseman Derrek Lee and third baseman Scott Rolen.

On Monday, he turned even more creative, asking reporters to put the word out on Twitter that he is interested in talking to Chipper Jones.

"If Chipper wants to come back, I would love to have Chipper," Cashman said of Jones, who spent all 19 of his seasons with the Braves.

The Yankees have interest in Jones, Lee and Rolen because regular first baseman Mark Teixeira is expected to be out until at least May because of a wrist injury. Besides Teixeira, the Yankees will be without center fielder Curtis Granderson and third baseman Alex Rodriguez on Opening Day.

Granderson, who fractured his forearm, also will be missing until May. Rodriguez, who had hip surgery, is not expected to return until after the All-Star break at the earliest.

On Monday afternoon, the Yankees signed Ben Francisco. He was released earlier in the day by the Cleveland Indians and will be in the competition to fill in for Granderson.

Jones has repeatedly said he is not going to come out of retirement. Still, with Kevin Youkilis' ability to play first, Cashman thinks Jones would be a "perfect" fit, so, unable to locate Jones' agent's number, he turned to the media for help to reach Jones.

"I figured that is the quickest line of communication -- Twitter," Cashman said. "I already know the answer, but I figured I might as well throw it out there."

After the news hit Twitter, Jones' agent, BB Abbott, called his client. Abbott said Jones got a chuckle out of Cashman's interest.

"He was part amused, part flattered," Abbott told ESPNNewYork.com.

Abbott said if Jones ever considered a short list of teams for a return, the Yankees would be on it. Ultimately, though, Jones' legacy is as a Brave and he reiterated that he has no interest in coming out of retirement.

"Enough with the rumors!" Jones tweeted. "While I am flattered about the speculation of being enticed out of retirement, I'm happy with life as a bad golfer!"

At any rate, Abbott added that Cashman has Jones' number.

Meanwhile, Cashman confirmed a New York Times report that he contacted Lee about making a comeback.

Of all the players Cashman is interested in, Lee sounds like the strongest possibility. Lee, 36, did not play in the majors last season. In 2011 he played 113 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Baltimore Orioles, hitting .267 with 19 homers and 59 RBIs.

"He is the type of player who is Yankee-like, in terms of capabilities, when he was playing, and makeup for the clubhouse and stuff like that," Cashman said. "I just planted a seed -- 'If you have an interest, thinking of playing, let me know.'"

Cashman, who said he spoke directly to Lee, described him as "intrigued." Cashman said he had a conversation with Rolen's representative, but he sounded pessimistic that a deal would get done. Cashman said his understanding was that Rolen, who turns 38 on April 4, turned down a "legitimate" offer from the Cincinnati Reds and has chosen not to play.

The Yankees are still looking internally to fill the gaps. Since Youkilis, who was signed in the offseason to replace Rodriguez, is a former Gold Glove winner as a first baseman, either Jayson Nix or Ronnier Mustelier could be internal candidates to play third. Mustelier, a 28-year-old from Cuba, has been the hitting sensation of the spring for the Yankees. Eduardo Nunez is an outside contender to play third, but he is more likely expected to back up Derek Jeter at short.

If Youkilis were to stay at third, the Yankees' only internal candidates to play first are Juan Rivera and Dan Johnson. Rivera and Mustelier also could be part of the outfield while Granderson is out.

Lee fits the profile of the type of player the Yankees gravitate toward as a backup. They feel that players who have been at the top or near the top of the game can be strong bench players when they get older. The reasoning goes that even with a diminished skill level, they are still better than players who have never had substantial success in the majors.

Lee's last standout season was in 2009, when he hit .306 with a .972 OPS with the Chicago Cubs. Cashman said he has heard from many agents pitching their players, but he is going to keep thinking of other ideas.

On Monday, he turned to social media to reach the 40-year-old Jones.

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Cashman said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.