Joe Girardi understands the intrigue at the top of the Yankees lineup. He understands that a fast young player is coming off a terrific season, and he understands that an iconic player is coming off a bad season.
“I think the fans are into everything we do,” Girardi said. “But you’re talking about Derek Jeter, and any time his name is mentioned, it’s going to be a big story.”
Tonight, the choice is easy — Jeter is making the road trip and Brett Gardner is not — but Girardi said he’ll continue to look at different orders through this final week and a half of spring training. Yesterday Gardner got another turn in the leadoff spot while Jeter batted second, and Girardi joked that it obviously worked because the Yankees won big.
“We’re going to continue to do it,” Girardi said. “It’s something that we’ll sit down and have a meeting about, probably pretty soon, within the next week and talk about what we all think about it and go from there. It’s an experiment that we’re willing to try right now.”
As for me: I’m starting to believe Girardi will make the change. I came into camp fully expecting Jeter to be the leadoff hitter, but frankly, moving back to No. 2 isn’t really a blow to Jeter’s ego, nor is it a knock on his abilities. Gardner’s shown his usual patience this spring, and the two-handed approach seems to be working when he swings the bat. As an added bonus, batting Gardner leadoff lets Nick Swisher hit in a run producing spot in the lineup.
“It doesn’t matter to me, one way or the other,” Gardner said.
Jeter was gone in a flash yesterday — probably trying to catch some of that near Michigan upset — so I didn’t talk to him after the game, but Girardi said he’s talked to the Yankees captain about the possibility of a change at the top of the order.
“He said he just wants to play,” Girardi said.
Associated Press photo of Jeter