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New York Yankees Rumor of the Day: Lyle Overbay Late Winner of First Base Sweeps

Veteran Cut by Boston Red Sox on Tuesday Likely to Start Season in Mark Teixeira’s Spot

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New York Yankees Rumor of the Day: Lyle Overbay Late Winner of First Base Sweeps
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Lyle Overbay, shown as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates in this 2011 photo, joined the New York Yankees …

COMMENTARY | Not a lot of people had Lyle Overbay as the winner in the battle to replace Mark Teixeira at first base for the New York Yankees for the opening of the 2013 season.

That would be primarily because Overbay wasn't even a Yankee until Tuesday, March 26.

The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger is reporting that the Yankees have cut veteran Juan Rivera to make room for Overbay on the opening-day roster.

Rivera hit .305/.328/.390 this spring in 61 plate appearances, but without a lot of pop. Rivera had five extra-base hits -- all doubles -- and only five RBIs. Rivera, 34, had seen his power wane since he hit a career-high 25 homers for the Los Angeles Angels in 2009. His home run totals fell to 15 in 2010 with the Angels, to 11 with the Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers in 2011, to just nine in part-time duty with the Dodgers last year. Over that span, Rivera's slugging percentage had fallen from .478 in 2009 to .409 in 2011 to a .382 in 2011 and .375 a year ago.

Rivera's defense was also "suspect," according to the Star-Ledger report, which quoted manager Joe Girardi as saying the team was "just a little bit more comfortable" with Overbay.

The 36-year-old Overbay has hit just .234/.327/.340 in 55 plate appearances with Boston and the Yankees this spring.

Overbay hasn't been a full-time player in the majors since 2010, when he hit .243/.329/.433 with the Blue Jays. Last season, Overbay hit .292/.367/.448 in 110 plate appearances for the Arizona Diamondbacks before he was released on Aug. 5. Signed by the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 20, Overbay got only 21 plate appearances for the Braves and was 2-for-20 with a double and a run scored.

For Yankees fans, the fact that the debate over who will open the season at first base came down to Rivera and Overbay is just another reason to hope Teixeira, who is projected to be out until at least June with a torn tendon sheath in his right wrist, is back sooner rather than later.

Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo! Contributor Network.

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