NEW YORK -- Jorge Posada entered play Monday hitting .345 since asking out of the lineup May 14 before a game against the Red Sox, raising his batting average from .165 to .226.

"I think everything kind of came to a head for Jorgie on that day, and I think he was able to release some frustration," manager Joe Girardi said. "And it was probably good for him, it was probably good for all of us. And it just seems like he's continued to work. He's put good at-bat after good at-bat, and it's turned around for him. We believed that he was going to hit, and it just took a little bit longer, maybe, this year than it has for some other guys. But he's swung the bat great."

That has been particularly true since June 5. In six games between that date and Monday's finale with Cleveland, Posada was 13-for-22 (.591).

But the 17-year Yankees veteran -- who said the May 14 episode is behind him -- cannot seem to put a finger on what has been going right for him after a trying start to a new role as a designated hitter.

"Just kept fighting," Posada said. "It's really just one of those things -- keep working and keep working and keep fighting. And good things are happening now."

Girardi said he would not shy away from starting Posada against left-handers, which the Yankees will face Wednesday and Thursday, in Texas' Derek Holland and C.J. Wilson. Posada had started the season 0-for-27 against southpaws but is 3-for-5 since.

If there is a bad time to be on a hot streak, it may soon be approaching for Posada, as the Yankees will play in National League cities for six games starting Friday in Chicago.

"I don't know what's going to happen, to tell you the truth," Posada said. "I'll be ready in case they need me."

Martin scratched late with back stiffness

NEW YORK -- Russell Martin's stiff lower back continues to be an issue for the Yankees, forcing the catcher to be scratched from Monday's lineup less than an hour before the first pitch against the Indians.

Martin took batting practice earlier in the day at Yankee Stadium, but manager Joe Girardi said that it was apparent he was still battling the stiffness, which has forced him to sit out five of the team's last six games.

"We watched him take BP and he just didn't look like he had the rotation he needed," Girardi said. "He did feel better today than he did yesterday, but we're going to wait and make sure that his BP is normal before we put him back out."

Martin went 0-for-4 in Sunday's 9-1 victory over the Indians, his return to action after missing four games with the injury. After that game, Martin acknowledged he was still experiencing the stiffness.

"It's still there a little bit," Martin said on Sunday. "It's something I can play with. I can run, throw, hit, even though I didn't hit today."

Francisco Cervelli replaced Martin behind the plate Monday against Cleveland, batting ninth. He went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts, but drew raves on his pitch-calling and blocking from starter A.J. Burnett, who allowed a run in 7 2/3 innings.

Noesi a possibility for Thursday start

NEW YORK -- If Hector Noesi is to be tabbed for his first Major League start, the Yankees' rookie right-hander won't find out until Wednesday.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that the team continues to list Thursday's starter against the Rangers as "TBA," although Noesi will be up for the nod if he is not needed in relief before then.

"It's something we could definitely consider," Girardi said. "If I had to use him in the next three days, then we'd do something else."

Noesi was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday after being optioned on Wednesday. He is 1-0 with a 1.76 ERA in four relief appearances, finishing three games.

Now in his third stint at the big league level this year, Noesi was a starter at Triple-A, going 1-1 with a 3.92 ERA in four starts.

The Yankees need a starter with Bartolo Colon on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left hamstring. If Noesi is used in relief, candidates at Triple-A include David Phelps and Adam Warren.

Hughes to face hitters Tuesday in Tampa

NEW YORK -- Phil Hughes will get a chance to pass an early hurdle of the rehab process on Tuesday, taking the mound in Tampa, Fla., for about 45 pitches in an extended spring training game.

Hughes is set to face a selection of organizational prospects at the club's Himes Avenue Minor League complex, the first time he'll face hitters in game situations since April.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that his concern will be how Hughes' arm bounces back between innings, and if there is consistency with his velocity.

If all goes well, Girardi said that the Yankees could see a Hughes return as "very realistic sometime in July."

"An exact date, we can't tell you, because we don't know what's going to happen tomorrow or two starts from now," Girardi said.

Bombers bits

Yankees infielder Eric Chavez (fractured fifth metatarsal in left foot) has not yet resumed running, though he has been hitting soft-toss in the batting cages. ... Left-handers Pedro Feliciano (left rotator cuff strain) and Damaso Marte (left shoulder labrum inflammation) are playing catch on flat ground ... Right-hander Rafael Soriano (right elbow inflammation) was scheduled to see team physician Christopher Ahmad on Monday to determine when he can begin playing catch.