There are a lot of strange things to see during a postseason simulated game. The one I didn’t expect this week was Brett Gardner going to third base to work on his reads. He never picked up a bat and never ran more than 40 feet away from the bag, but he reacted to pitch after pitch as if it were a real game.
“That’s not something you can work on any other time,” Gardner said. “You’re never out there with a pitcher throwing — except for one intrasquad game in spring training — the pitcher’s never throwing from the stretch or from the windup with a live hitter, maybe he’s going to swing, maybe he’s not. Sometimes you’ve got a coach on a mound throwing BP and a guy swinging at every pitch. Just over there trying to work on my footwork, trying to work on my contact reads. Just trying to work on little things that might come up that I might get better at.”
Base running has become part of the ALCS buzz this past week. It started when the Rays scored three early runs in Game 5 of their division series, all by being aggressive on the bases.
“I don’t see the team changing their philosophy from last series to this series,” Curtis Granderson said. “I also think it’s been their philosophy all season.”
The Yankees don’t stand out as a running team, but with Granderson and Gardner, they have two everyday players who can create some havoc with their speed. Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez will run from time to time, and Ramiro Pena and Greg Golson are available to run off the bench in the late innings.
“Still be aggressive but you’ve got to be smart,” Gardner said. “People all the time want me to run more and talk about me running more, but with the guys that I’ve got coming up behind me, the last thing I want to do is get thrown out with Tex or Swish or whoever at the plate… I don’t like getting thrown out so maybe I don’t run in a situation that might call for me to run in. This time of year, it’s important to try to take the extra base and when you have the opportunity try to steal second.”
Associated Press photo of Gardner with Mark Teixeira