Although Joe Girardi didn’t commit to a full-time platoon in left field, he said Marcus Thames could be a regular in the lineup whenever the Yankees are facing a left-handed starter. Today’s it’s at the expense of Brett Gardner, but there might be games when Nick Johnson gets a day off, or Nick Swisher gets a day off, or days when Curtis Granderson gets a day off and Gardner shifts to center.
“Will it always be Gardner (out of the lineup)?” Girardi said. “Not necessarily.”
Thames has strong career numbers against lefties. He’s 1-for-2 with a home run against Jon Lester. The homer came at Fenway. “It was a cutter that didn’t get in there,” Thames said. Getting at-bats against left-handed starters and relievers is more or less the same role Thames filled in Detroit.
“It’s a guy that we thought could get a lot of at-bats against left-handers,” Girardi said. “That’s what we envisioned, him being productive in that role. He’s a guy that you could pinch hit if you need a home run. He has the ability to do that. There are a lot of different things we thought we could do with him, but for the most part the numbers against left-handers is what spoke the loudest.”
Here’s Girardi’s pregame session with the media.
• Everyone is well aware that Granderson’s splits against lefties were awful last year, but Girardi said another bonus of dropping Granderson is the lineup is to pair Granderson and Derek Jeter for some speed on the bases.
• Phil Hughes is with the team. He got in this afternoon after pitching yesterday in Tampa. Hughes went 100 pitches in that sim game — there were five different batters but no defensive players or base runners — and he’s scheduled for 110 his next time out.
• Girardi is going to play match-ups to determine his eighth-inning relievers early in the season, but he’s hoping to have defined roles sooner rather than later. “I think it’s important and that’s why we want to to get this ironed out as soon as possible,” he said. Basically, whoever steps up consistently will get the setup job ahead of Mariano Rivera.
• Joba Chamberlain went 30-plus pitches on Sunday, but Monday’s off day might make him available tonight. “I’m going to see how he feels physically,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of how they feel physically, Girardi said he’s confident Damaso Marte was physically able to pitch Sunday night and he considers him available tonight. Those control issues might have been because he hadn’t pitched lately, not because of any physical problems.
• Pretty cool to watch Gardner rewind video of Jon Lester’s pickoff move over and over this afternoon. He’s not in the lineup, but Gardner was studying just in case.
• The Red Sox are going with the same lineup as yesterday.
Jacoby Ellsbury LF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Victor Martinez C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
David Ortiz DH
Adrian Beltre 3B
J.D. Drew RF
Mike Cameron CF
Marco Scutaro SS