Joe Girardi has settled on one lineup decision: Derek Jeter will bat leadoff against left-handed starters. “You can bank on that,” Girardi said.
Who bats leadoff against right-handers remains up in the air.
Jack Curry reported today that the Yankees will open the season with Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot. I’m sure Curry’s right, but Girardi said he hasn’t settled on a lineup against right-handed pitchers.
“It’s something we’ll talk about on the plane,” Girardi said.
The Yankees face Justin Verlander on Thursday, and won’t face a lefty through the entire opening series against Detroit. The fact Girardi stuck with Gardner in the leadoff spot through the final two weeks or so of spring training seems to be a pretty good sign that he’s leaning that way for the regular season, but he’s said he won’t set anything in stone until Thursday.
“We’ll find out in a couple of day,” Gardner said. “I’m not worried about it.”
Gardner hit .260 this spring. His nine walks were tied with Jorge Posada for the team lead. Jeter hit .304 and struck out only three times. In the final weeks, he seemed to be driving the ball more often, and Girardi said that’s what stood out to him about his shortstop.
“Some of the balls that he’s pulled with authority,” Girardi said. “I’ve noticed that he seems to get to that better now, and I think it’s something that pitchers are going to have to think about. Everything he used to try to shoot the other way, and he would pull some breaking balls. I’ve seen him pull some heaters with authority. People are going to have to decide whether the risk is worth it now.”
• Pedro Feliciano might be out longer than two weeks. Girardi said Feliciano has been shut down for 10 days and is likely to be out at least three weeks. “He’s going to have to play catch and long toss and flat ground then get off a mound and then throw to hitters,” Girardi said. “I think you’re looking at at least three weeks.”
• Feliciano, Damaso Marte and Colin Curtis are all traveling with the Yankees to New York. They’ll all be checked out in the City, but they won’t necessarily stay with the team for their rehab work.
• Girardi made it clear that if Curtis Granderson isn’t able to open the season, Chris Dickerson is the next in line to take that roster spot. If Granderson does open the season, though, the Dickerson will open in the minors.
• Every healthy Yankees reliever pitched today. Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson pitched in a simulated game at the minor league complex. Rafael Soriano and Bartolo Colon combined for a hitless inning and a third in the big league game. Even 12th reliever candidates Luis Ayala and Steve Garrison pitched today.
• In his final spring start, Freddy Garcia went 4.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out three. The one run came on a home run by Brennan Boesch.
• Meaningless spring information: Colon started the spring opener, and he threw the final pitch in today’s finale.
• Garrison faced four hitters today. He retired the two right-handers — including a strikeout of Jhonny Peralta — but both lefties singled. Ayala faced three hitters. Magglio Ordonez doubled, Miguel Cabrera grounded out and Victor Martinez flied out.
• Phil Hughes allowed one run through five innings at the minor league complex today. Granderson and Dickerson faced Hector Noesi and some other minor leaguers in their sim game. Thank you to Donnie Collins for the information.
• Austin Romine hit his second spring home run. The two homers came in back-to-back games. The Yankees only other extra-base hit was a double by Andruw Jones, but the Romine homer push the Yankees to a 2-1 win.
• Girardi was asked today if he might be more willing to pinch hit for his catcher this season because he has Jorge Posada as an emergency option. “It’s probably something I would be somewhat reluctant to do,” Girardi said.
• Francisco Cervelli is no longer wearing his protective boot. “I don’t think it’s out of the question to have him May 1,” Girardi said.
• Speaking of Cervelli: “He asked me if I wanted (the boot),” Girardi said. “I said no, I don’t.” Only Cervelli would ask if someone else would like to keep his protective boot.
Associated Press photos of Jeter, Garcia and Rodriguez