Brett Gardner didn’t expect to be in the lineup on Wednesday. He knew the Blue Jays were starting a lefty, he knew Andruw Jones would be in the lineup, and he knew which of the three outfielder regulars deserved to sit.
This weekend, the Yankees are facing nothing but right-handed starters, and that means Gardner will be back. No Yankees position player has gotten off to a slower start, but while Joe Girardi has seen enough to drop Gardner out of the leadoff spot, he’s made it clear that Gardner has not lost his starting job.
“You have to take advantage of the opportunities that are given to you,” Gardner said. “They gave me a chance to lead off the first couple of weeks of the season. I didn’t do a good job of it. It’s not the end of the world. Whenever I get an opportunity, whenever I’m playing, when they ask me to steal a base or get a bunt down, I have to do a better job of getting everything done.”
Nothing seems to be going right for Gardner these days. He’s been caught stealing three times, he’s botched bunt attempts and his timing at the plate has been off. Gardner said it has nothing to do with the two-handed approach he started using this spring, and it has nothing to do with his new spot in the lineup. He’s just not swinging the bat very well.
“I can look back to the first couple months of last season when things were going so well,” Gardner said, “and not only use that mentally and emotionally to help my confidence, to help me believe that I belong here and can be successful here, but also I can look back at the video and try to compare things. See if I can find some differences that I can point out, because I know those couple months, that’s the best I’ve been. If you can be successful for a couple months, there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to find that and get back in that groove again.”
Would he want to be the leadoff man again?
“That would mean that I’m back on track and playing well, so obviously that would be great,” Gardner said. “By no means do I think I should be in that spot right now. Whenever I’m in the lineup and have a chance to contribute. I’ll be ready to.”
Associated Press photo