The leading home run hitters in the American League are squaring off tonight, and while most seem to be wondering how Juan Bautista got to the top of that list — from fairly anonymous player to arguably the most dangerous hitter in the game — Curtis Granderson seems to find it more bizarre to find himself on that list.
“It (was) unusual for people to throw these crazy predictions before I even played my first game as a Yankee,” Granderson said. “And with the stuff that’s going on now, there’s even crazier ones. I ask people, physically, look at me. I’m not that type to guy. If it happens, great. It’s not something I try to do. I don’t put myself in a category like Bautista or a Ryan Howard or an Alex Rodriguez, except for the fact we’re all baseball players.”
Granderson hit 30 home runs in his last year with the Tigers, and because he was moving from Detroit’s spacious ballpark to the Yankees occasionally homer-happy stadium, there were instantly predictions of 40-plus. Then Granderson got off to a miserable start last season, and those lofty hopes were kind of forgotten.
It was somewhat forgotten — or lost completely — that Granderson hit 14 home runs in his last 46 games last season. This year he has 16 through 45 games. He’s been hitting home runs near this pace for roughly a half-season worth of games.
“Bautista you saw a whole year of the same thing and now you’ve seen two months of it,” Joe Girardi said. “Curtis, it’s been the past four months, but it was two months one year and maybe people forget. It’s not glaring how many home runs he hit last year, but then you look at his two months this year and you say, wow, he’s got a lot at this point. It’s two guys that have made adjustments and have become big power hitters.”
Fair enough, but don’t expect Granderson to buy into it any time soon. He called 40-plus home runs a “kid dream kind of deal,” something he’d obviously like to do but would never actively pursue.
“I’ve never considered myself that,” he said. “I try to drive the baseball, I’ll say that. Sometimes they happen to get out of the ballpark.”
• Nick Swisher is getting another healthy day off to work on his left-handed swing. It reminds me of the days Granderson was given late last season when he and Kevin Long made those successful changes to his swing. “He’s just doing the drills that he’s been doing,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of different ways to work with players when they’re going through some tough times, offensively or pitching. You can keep running them out there or you can give them a couple days to try to work on some stuff. I chose at this point — because I’ve been running him out there every day — to give him a couple days.”
• Girardi said there’s a chance Rafael Soriano will be on a mound at the end of this home stand. Sounds like it’s not set in stone, but that’s what the medical staff was talking about.
• Still no date set for Phil Hughes to get on a mound. He’s scheduled to make the upcoming West Coast trip.
• Alex Rodriguez has not had his hip checked. No appointment scheduled. Rodriguez said last weekend that it wasn’t an urgent matter, just something they want to have checked at some point. It’s not bothering him.
• Girardi plans to stay away from Joba Chamberlain today, but that’s strictly because of his workload. It has nothing to do with Chamberlain’s eye infection. “I was not aware of his eye infection,” Girardi said. “Sometimes I’m the last one to hear things. It’s been that way my whole life. I will stay away from him today.”
• Eric Chavez is walking around without his protective boot, but he can’t run yet. He won’t really begin baseball activities until he can run. “I can’t tell you when he’ll be able to run,” Girardi said. “But he seems to be doing OK. As far as walking. He’s walking fine, but it’s just getting to that next step.”
• Girardi said it’s hard to call Bartolo Colon a surprise at this point: “We witnessed it almost three months,” Girardi said. “It was a pleasant surprise early on, what I saw in spring training. But it’s a guy now that you expect it from, and when you don’t get great location, you’re a little bit shocked. Like the day he had in Texas. We were a little bit shocked. He’s been outstanding. It’s a guy you expect to give you a distance. It’s a guy you expect to keep you right in the game and throw a ton of strikes.”
• A very quick congratulations to my friend Trisha who was married this weekend in Michigan. It was great to get up north and see her family, who I hadn’t seen in several years. Congratulations to Trisha and Nick!
Rajai Davis CF
Corey Patterson LF
Jose Bautista RF
Yunel Escobar SS
Juan Rivera 1B
Aaron Hill 2B
Eric Thames DH
J.P. Arencibia C
Edwin Encarnacion 3B
Associated Press photo