When a traded baseball player speaks to the media for the first time, you expect him to give a generic comment about how great he expects the new fans to be. Curtis Granderson was no different during tonight’s conference call, except he had a specific example in mind.
“I think New York’s fan base is probably one of the most knowledgeable about tradition and the team,” he said. “Case in point, when I was walking around with Marcus Thames one time, a police officer pointed him out and said, ‘Hey, that’s Marcus Thames. First at-bat home run against Randy Johnson.’ It just amazed me that we’re walking down the middle of the street in Manhattan, there’s a ton of people walking on the street and this guy picked him out — not in uniform — and remembered that bit about him. That’s part’s probably going to be the most interesting because people know it and they study it and they learn it and they want to be all about New York.”
It’s tough to know much about a guy based on a 16-minute phone call, but Granderson seemed excited to get this phase of his career started. He’s played in New York during fairly meaningless regular season games, and he’s played in New York during the playoffs. He spoke at length about his Grand Kids Foundation and the idea of bringing it to the city. He called himself an “adaptor” who can hit pretty much anywhere in the lineup, steal a bag when he needs to and “can sneak in and do some positive things for our team.”
Granderson played against Robinson Cano coming up through the minors, and he played with Derek Jeter in the World Baseball Classic. Otherwise, he doesn’t seem to have a close relationship with many of the current Yankees, except one.
“Me and Swisher have played against one another when he was with Oakland,” Granderson said. “And with him playing first base, for some reason we clicked very well. Getting on first base, we would have full conversations throughout the game. Even in the American League Championship Series, Andy Van Slyke, our former first-base coach with the Tigers, had to calm us down because we were in full conversation.”
• The number 28. Granderson said he wore it in college and he’s worn it most of his major league career, but if Joe Girardi wants it, it’s his. “He’s the one that makes everything go, so he’s definitely going to have first dibs on it,” Granderson said. Granderson started laughing when he told us the two numbers that he wore when he was younger: 2 and 8. “Those aren’t options either,” he said.
• Cashman said Granderson is the Yankees center fielder. He does not foresee a situation in which Granderson becomes the left fielder.
• As for the batting order. Granderson said he’s comfortable hitting anywhere. Cashman said the Yankees will discuss it this winter, but right now he sees Granderson batting second against right-handed starters and “in the back of the lineup” against left-handed starters.
• Granderson was quickly asked what he can do to cut down on the strikeouts and hit better against lefties: “It’s going to be just a transition to try to continue to try to figure out what’s causing it,” he said. “There’s a simple answer to that: Don’t hit with two strikes. Of course, that would be the easiest and obvious one. But when it comes down to the actual mechanical and mental changes we have to make in the game, that’s going to come over time I think, and getting to be around hitters that have proven to be consistent hitters like a Jeter, like a Teixeira, like an A-Rod whose strikeout numbers are down, who can hit against both pitchers up there — Teixeira, of course, being a switch hitter. To see guys like Robinson Cano, who’s a guy I played against coming up all the way through the minor league system and has had great success batting against left-handers. Hopefully I can learn a lot of things from him and the rest of the Yankees offensive lineup there. Make strides moving forward, that’s what I always want to do. Just improve on something.”
• Cashman’s take on Granderson’s struggles against lefties: “He has hit lefties before,” Cashman said. “He was obviously very bad last year. We’ll have to wait and see. Kevin Long will work with him. If you look at video from a scouting perspective, you can’t really see any reason why, and a lot of times you can (with other players). In his case, it’s more of a head scratcher. There’s nothing you can see that explains why he didn’t hit left handers.”
• If Johnny Damon were to be re-signed, Cashman said Damon would likely return to the No. 2 spot in the order and Granderson would move into a more run-producing spot in the lineup.