NEW YORK -- By the end of June, Vernon Wells' red-hot start had become a distant memory. His .232 batting average on June 30 had only been worse once since Opening Day. He looked lost against righties, and any semblance of power potential had vanished from his bat.
In July, things have suddenly turned around. Wells' average is back up to .241 and his slugging percentage is at .378. He's once again become not only a staple in the lineup, but one of the Yankees' most reliable bats.
"I don't see a whole lot different," manager Joe Girardi said. "It could be a little bit of pitch selection, laying off the pitch that's below the zone, but I know he worked very hard with [hitting coach] Kevin [Long] in the time that he wasn't playing a lot, and it's seemed to pay off. He's been swinging the bat good."
Wells was in the lineup for the third straight day Saturday and served as the designated hitter for the second game in a row. He's collected a hit in six of the nine games he's played in July and has five multi-hit games in the month.
But it's no secret Wells has struggled against right-handers. Wells entered Saturday batting just .211 against righties this year compared to .294 against left-handers. Saturday seemed a perfect day to run designated hitter Travis Hafner back out into the lineup against Twins righty Sam Deduno. Hafner's fully healthy, but Girardi is sticking with the hot-hitting Wells.
"Vern's been putting up good at-bats," the manager said. "Right-handers have hit this guy better than lefties, so I thought I'd go with Vern."
Hafner is ready to play whenever he gets the call, and Girardi assured that the slugger will get back into the lineup -- Hafner hasn't played since an 0-for-2 on June 10 -- even as he's mired in a slump. His raw power is too valuable, as is his ability to hit righties on the more consistent basis that Wells cannot. But for now, it's still Wells' turn.
"I'm going to run him back out there," Girardi said of Hafner. "It's just Vern's been swinging the bat well and I'm going to leave him out there."
Girardi can't put finger on Yanks' success vs. Twins
NEW YORK -- His team's success against the Twins is a little bit surprising to Joe Girardi. Minnesota's been a strong organization for the past decade, and when the two sides meet, they tend to play games like Friday night's contest -- long, close and wildly competitive.
Girardi's first year as New York's manager taught him just what this series has been like. In 2008, the Yankees won all seven games against the Twins, but two went into extra innings and only one was decided by more than two runs.
Five years later, Girardi still can't put his finger on it.
"It's hard for me to say, because it seems like so many of the games are like the games [Friday] night, where it's a hit here, a hit there," Girardi said.
New York entered Saturday off to a 5-0 start against Minnesota. But this season, the margins had been a bit bigger, with Robinson Cano leading the way by going 8-for-17 with three home runs and 10 RBIs against the Twins entering play Saturday.
It still doesn't make much sense, but that's the nature of baseball, and the nature of Yankees-Twins series is that New York tends to win.
"The Twins have been a successful organization over the past 10 years," Girardi said, "and we've probably been fortunate to win as many games as we have."
• Alex Rodriguez's rehab continued Saturday in Tampa, Fla., where the Gulf Coast League Yankees were scheduled to play a doubleheader with Bradenton. The third baseman was slated to play in one of the games, Girardi said.
• Jayson Nix was in the clubhouse before Saturday's game, but Girardi confirmed that the infielder would go down to Tampa on Monday to begin more work, though the manager wasn't sure of the exact schedule. Nix went on the disabled list on June 3 with a right hamstring strain.
• Derek Jeter wasn't at Yankee Stadium for Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Twins, but it had nothing to do with that quad injury he sustained on Thursday; the shortstop is battling a stomach bug, so the team told him to stay home for the day.
"He has a stomach bug going on," Girardi said. "He actually didn't come to the ballpark today, he was pretty sick, so we left him home."
The manager did say that he expects Jeter to be back at the ballpark on Sunday. Jeter is still expected to be out until after the All-Star break, during which he will be evaluated.
David Wilson is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.