NEW YORK (AP) -Doug Mientkiewicz is confident he can help the New York Yankees win down the stretch and in the postseason - even if he isn't 100 percent.
Mientkiewicz was in the starting lineup for the third straight night Tuesday as the Yankees faced the Baltimore Orioles. Known for his strong defense, the first baseman has come up with some important hits since he returned after having surgery to repair a broken right wrist.
``He's made some big plays,'' Yankees manager Joe Torre said. ``He's had an effect on our games.''
Mientkiewicz hurt his wrist in a collision with Boston's Mike Lowell on June 2 and had surgery 10 days later. He was activated Sept. 1 after a 10-game rehabilitation assignment in the minors, where he batted .400 with a homer, six doubles and 15 RBIs.
Mientkiewicz, a career .269 hitter, has swung the bat well in limited action since he came off the DL. He went 2-for-3 to help New York beat AL East-leading Boston 4-3 on Sunday, then followed that with a two-run single and two walks in the Yankees' 8-5 win over Baltimore on Monday.
He was hitting .226 with four home runs and 16 RBIs in 124 at-bats when he got hurt, and it seems the wrist injury has helped him at the plate.
``When they first cleared me to swing, I noticed something right away, that my wrist would give me pain if I swung, let's say wrong,'' he said. ``If I came under the ball, my wrist hurt. When I came back and started swinging, when I was flatter, my wrist didn't hurt.''
The defense is still there, too. Mientkiewicz made a terrific diving stop against the Red Sox on Sunday, possibly saving two runs. He won a Gold Glove in 2001 with Minnesota, and his .996 fielding percentage is third-highest among first basemen with 500 or more career games.
``We have enough offense to where I can do the little things to help us win games,'' Mientkiewicz said.
He got another start against the Orioles because Torre said Jason Giambi had a bruised foot from being hit by a pitch in the series opener. X-rays on Giambi's foot were negative.
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