NEW YORK -- Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira returned to action on Monday, but he did so in an unfamiliar location, slotted to bat seventh in a starting lineup for the first time since his rookie season.

Teixeira was out of New York's lineup for its three-game weekend series against the Reds due to severely inflamed bronchial airways, but he pinch-hit in the ninth inning of Sunday's 5-2 loss, reaching on an error.

"Everyone knows I'm not 100 percent," Teixeira said. "I've just been really trying to grind it the whole season, really. It makes you really appreciate when you are healthy.

"I'd love to be able to say that I'm 100 percent and strong, but I haven't really been driving the ball like I should be this year. It has been a rough go. It really doesn't matter where I hit anyway."

Teixeira entered Monday's game against the Royals batting .226 with five home runs and 20 RBIs. He had not batted seventh in a starting lineup since 2003 as a member of the Texas Rangers, and manager Joe Girardi said he checked with Teixeira before filling out the batting order.

"I think you always have a little bit of a worry; you always have to be concerned how a player handles it," Girardi said. "You talk to them, you feel them out, you listen to what they're saying. I'm not so sure we would say Mark likes it, but he said OK, and I asked him a couple different times."

Teixeira said he has done away with all medication for his cough, which has left his voice raspy. Of more concern is that physical activity could bring back his coughing fits, though running out a ninth-inning grounder off the Reds' Aroldis Chapman on Sunday did not seem to trigger a recurrence.

"I'm curious to see the first time he has to run hard a couple of times, what happens," Girardi said. "He had to run hard to first yesterday, and I did not hear him cough."

Girardi said that one byproduct of dropping Teixeira in the order could be that he takes less heat for the Yankees' struggles with runners in scoring position; as a club, New York entered play on Monday with just six hits in its last 59 at-bats with runners at second or third base.

"Maybe just people will stop asking him so many questions all the time," Girardi said. "He's been the focus of our lineup, and if the other guys were hitting, he probably wouldn't be a focus. There's a lot of other guys who are struggling in those situations, some worse than he is."

Teixeira said that he still believes he will be able to approach his normal levels of production, which peg him for at least 30 home runs and 100 RBIs by season's end.

"Oh yeah, [the numbers will be there] because they always are," Teixeira said. "No one has been more consistent than me. I feel like I'm getting a little bit better. I know that I can get back. We may need to take some time off like we did this weekend every now and then if my stamina isn't there. It's a day-by-day thing."

Robertson unlikely to return when eligible

NEW YORK -- Yankees reliever David Robertson is on pace to begin baseball activities on Thursday in Tampa, Fla., making a return from the disabled list after the minimum 15 days unlikely.

Manager Joe Girardi said Robertson, on the disabled list with a strained left oblique is feeling better, and the Yankees are thinking about sending the reliever to Tampa along with injured left fielder Brett Gardner later this week.

They initially hoped Robertson would be able to return from his injury on Sunday -- after the minimum 15 days -- but that now appears out of the question.

"That's probably pushing it, because he's not going to pick up a baseball probably until Thursday," Girardi said of the right-hander. "That would be really pushing it."

Before hitting the DL, Robertson had two save opportunities following Mariano Rivera's season-ending right knee injury. The fill-in closer finished off a win over Tampa Bay on May 8 but blew the save and took the loss the next night, when he surrendered four Rays runs on three hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning.

Banuelos, Nunez placed on DL in Minors

NEW YORK -- Yankees pitching prospect Manny Banuelos and infielder Eduardo Nunez have been placed on the seven-day Minor League disabled list by Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Banuelos -- who entered the season ranked as the club's No. 1 prospect by MLB.com -- has been placed on the DL retroactive to Saturday with a sore left elbow, while Nunez is on the shelf retroactive to Sunday with a sore right thumb.

The DL stint is the second of the season for Banuelos, 20, who previously battled a back injury. Banuelos is 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA in six starts at Triple-A.

After Nunez committed four errors in 20 games, the Yankees optioned the utility man to the Minors on May 11 with the intent of having him focus on playing shortstop. Nunez had three hits in 13 at-bats (.231) at Triple-A.

Bombers bits

• Derek Jeter entered play on Monday tied with former teammate Melky Cabrera, now with the San Francisco Giants, for the Major League lead in hits with 59. Jeter's .347 batting average ranked eighth in the Majors.

• New York pitchers struck out 35 batters in the club's three-game series against the Reds, marking the first time Yankees hurlers had fanned 10 or more in each game of a three-game series since June 17-19, 2008, against San Diego, when they fanned 40 for the series.

• On this date in 1922, Colonel Jacob Ruppert bought out Colonel Tillinghast L'Hommedieu Huston for $1.5 million, taking sole control of the New York Yankees. He would retain ownership until his passing in 1939.