Top Prospects: Austin Romine, C, Yankees

NEW YORK -- Yankees manager Joe Girardi has seemed reluctant to work rookie Austin Romine into the catching mix, and he said that his plan is to start veteran Chris Stewart behind the plate for all three games of the series against the Athletics.

Romine has started just once since he was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and had some communication issues working with Andy Pettitte in that April 29 loss to the Astros.

Girardi said that his plan is tentatively to work Romine back in when the Yankees begin a series with the Rockies on Tuesday at Coors Field.

"I could change my mind, but it's three days," Girardi said. "It's still early in the year. We had a day off Thursday and we have a day off Monday."

Romine has generally been regarded as one of the Yanks' best catching prospects, and when he made his big league debut in 2011, the Yankees boasted that he was already rated as a plus defensive catcher at the big league level.

But the Yanks played Romine sparingly this spring after he lost most of 2012 to a back injury, and that was thought to be in large part because both Stewart and Francisco Cervelli were out of Minor League options. Girardi has made it clear that his priority is defense behind the plate.

"Stewy's always been a guy that can handle a pitching staff," Girardi said. "That's what we've asked our catchers to do, is handle our pitching staff well, and he's familiar with these guys. I want Austin to get familiar with them so we can get him in the mix more, and that takes a little bit of time. But Stew's always been a very good defensive catcher."

Romine said after the April 29 game that he planned to talk with Pettitte about the finer points of the outing, in which Pettitte allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

"We've got to iron this out before next time," Romine said that night. "It's going to take a little while to get on the same page as him and a lot of these guys. I'd like to do it a little bit quicker."

Looking to provide an option, Nix works at first

TOR@NYY: Nix snares grounder at third for the out

NEW YORK -- Jayson Nix was not in the Yankees' starting lineup on Saturday, so he spent about a half-hour taking hot shots at first base, working with infield coach Mick Kelleher just in case he is needed at the position.

"You just never know," Nix said. "We've got a lot of guys down and you want to keep options available. Just something to try and stay ready."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has said that with Kevin Youkilis and Mark Teixeira on the disabled list, he does not really have a right-handed option to play first base and will have to play Lyle Overbay for the majority of the team's upcoming games.

Nix has been playing third base regularly in Youkilis' absence, but the Yanks picked up a reserve third-base option this week by acquiring Chris Nelson from the Rockies. Nelson was in the lineup for his first Yankees start on Saturday against the Athletics.

Nix said that he took some ground balls at first base during Spring Training, but the last time he recalls playing first base in a game was the Area Code Games in high school, and so he had to borrow a first baseman's glove from Yankees coaching assistant Brett Weber on Saturday.

Nix said that he would talk to Teixeira and Youkilis about the nuances of first base, and so far, ironing out the footwork has been the most challenging part of adjusting to the position.

"That's the name of the game in playing the infield, period," Nix said. "Moving from short to third to second like I do, that's probably the biggest thing, the footwork. It's the same thing going over there."

Bombers bits

• Yankees right-hander David Robertson (left hamstring) is improving, but Girardi said that he still does not expect to use him in a game until Tuesday against the Rockies in Denver.

• Yankees right-hander Ivan Nova (right triceps strain) played catch on Saturday at Yankee Stadium. Nova is expected to travel to Tampa, Fla., after Sunday's game to continue his rehab.

• Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Youkilis are also among those expected to report to Tampa after the homestand, while Curtis Granderson started participating in extended spring games on Wednesday.

• On this date in 1929, Lou Gehrig hit three home runs, going 4-for-4 with 13 total bases and four RBIs in an 11-9 win over the White Sox.

• On this date in 1981, Yankees reliever Ron Davis struck out eight consecutive Angels to record a save in a 4-2 win in Anaheim, tying a then-American League record for consecutive strikeouts in a game. The Tigers' Doug Fister broke the record with nine last Sept. 27.