BALTIMORE -- Brett Gardner was again not in the starting lineup on Monday night as the Yankees faced Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz, and manager Joe Girardi plans to talk to the speedster about his role.

"Early in the season, you don't want guys sitting too long and having a hard time getting going," Girardi said.

Girardi started Andruw Jones in left field, with Alex Rodriguez taking a half-day as the designated hitter. The Yankees will see another southpaw on Tuesday, as the Orioles plan to send Wei-Yin Chen to the hill for his Major League debut.

"We're getting a lot of lefties here, and it's a way to keep [Jones'] bat in the lineup," Girardi said. "Eventually, Gardy is going to play against some of the lefties, and I'll get [Curtis Granderson] a day off, but it's so early in the season, I just try to get guys in there."

Girardi also explained that with Rodriguez getting a half-day at DH, he wanted to keep Eduardo Nunez in the lineup as the third baseman. Nunez booted the first ball hit to him this season on Saturday, but Girardi thinks that Nunez is largely over the defensive concerns that saw him commit 21 errors last year.

"For this team to be successful, I think he has to play well," Girardi said of Nunez. "I think he's a big part of it."

Girardi addresses Yanks, stressing patience

BALTIMORE -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi briefly addressed his team after Sunday's 3-0 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field, generally telling his players that it is too early to worry about a slow start.

"It is only three games -- we talked about that," Girardi said. "I've talked about players individually. It's three games. You can't make too much of it. We've got a lot of three-game series left; a lot. It's one. You move on."

Girardi said he understands that his players wanted to get off to a better start, but he is not discounting that the Yankees put up a combined 12 runs in the first two games of the series against two very good Rays pitchers in James Shields and David Price.

"If someone would have told you we were going to score six runs off of Shields and six runs off of Price, you probably would have said, 'Well, that's pretty good,'" Girardi said. "It's just important that we're doing things the right way, and I thought our guys did."

Girardi said that he has not heard from managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner, which is not out of the ordinary. He said that the current situation is "a totally different circumstance" than in 1998, the last time the Yankees started 0-3, when George M. Steinbrenner fumed in New York and the tabloids speculated about manager Joe Torre's job security, but Girardi doesn't think his position would be much different if "The Boss" was still at the helm.

"I've always said, my heat comes from within," Girardi said. "[Any criticism] might be more public, maybe, but my heat comes from within. I don't necessarily have to worry about what other people think. I have to worry about what I think."

Debut reminds Phelps of humble beginnings

BALTIMORE -- David Phelps isn't sure if the two outs he recorded in his Major League debut on Sunday played as a big story back home, but he knows a thing or two about helping to fill newspaper space.

Phelps spent three years working as an agate clerk for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch while attending Hazelwood West (Mo.) High School, entering the statistical information for high school box scores.

"The coaches would call in and give the stats, and I'd put them in the computer," Phelps said. "It was simple, sitting behind a computer all the time. I played basketball, and I always had a rule that I wouldn't touch my own games.

"When the coach would call in, I'd pass the phone to someone else. It was the perfect job, because it fit my schedule. I could finish my game that day, go home, shower and come in, and then the phones would start ringing."

Phelps was reminded of the entry-level position, which he held beginning at age 16 until graduation, as he scrolled through text messages from more than 50 friends and family members following his big league debut on Sunday.

As newspapers thudded on doorsteps across the country on Monday morning, Phelps' name was appearing in the Yankees-Rays box score, showing a clean ERA of 0.00 and one strikeout.

"It was tough to go to bed last night," Phelps said. "I'm trying to take in everything that happened, really how special it was, not only for me, but my family and friends. You don't want it to stop there, though."

Bombers bits

• Girardi doesn't watch much of the Mets during the regular season, but after seeing them for 18 innings in Grapefruit League play, he isn't surprised that the Amazin's got off to a 3-0 start.

"I talked to [manager] Terry [Collins], and I saw them swing the bats," Girardi said. "I said, 'You know, your lineup swings the bats pretty good.' And they have a nice left-right-left-right. I'm not surprised. It's baseball."

• Monday marked right-hander David Robertson's 27th birthday.

• On this date in 1996, the Yankees and Royals played the memorable "snow game" in Yankee Stadium's home opener, as Joe DiMaggio threw out the ceremonial first pitch and Andy Pettitte hurled 6 1/3 innings of three-run ball. Girardi and Tino Martinez were booed in pregame introductions, replacing the popular Mike Stanley and Don Mattingly, respectively.