Joe Girardi just spoke to the media, addressing a fairly large crowd for about 20 minutes. The early minutes focused on Hiroyiki Nakajima, the Japanese shortstop the Yankees will now negotiate with to try to settle on a contract to bring him to the States.
“This is about acquiring talent,” Girardi said.
Girardi said there is “definitely” room on the big league roster for both Nakajima and Eduardo Nunez, a roster construction that would essentially give the Yankees two utility infielders. Girardi once again indicated that Nunez could be used in the outfield next year, and he said that Nakajima — who’s been strictly a shortstop in Japan — will be asked to “do more” in regard to playing other positions.
By the way, Girardi pointed out that Nakajima was both the shortstop and the captain of his team in Japan. Someone else pointed out, the Yankees already have one of those.
A few other quick notes from Girardi before I head upstairs for Brian Cashman’s media availability.
• Derek Jeter’s spot in the lineup next year? “I expect him to be our leadoff guy,” Girardi said.
• Girardi said he still hasn’t settled on a heart of the order for next year, but Robinson Cano is getting serious consideration in the No. 3 spot. It’s also possible the Yankees could do what they did at the end of last year and have one middle of the order against right-handers and a different middle of the order against lefties.
• Girardi said he doesn’t have an exact number of games he’d like to have Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the field. A lot of that will depend on how they look during the season. That said, when he was asked whether Rodriguez could play 150 games next year, Girardi wasn’t optimistic. “I don’t know about 150,” he said.
• Although Jesus Montero isn’t assured a spot on the big league roster, Girardi said he expects that to happen. Montero is likely to be the regular designated hitter, but Girardi said he wouldn’t call Montero the “everyday” DH because other guys have to get time at that spot.
• Girardi said Montero will get some time behind the plate next year — and it’s entirely possible the team will carry a third catcher — but Girardi also said he’s brought up the idea of giving Montero some reps at first base (in batting practice or spring training) just in case the Yankees ever need him there. Right now, Girardi said, Nick Swisher would be the backup first baseman behind Mark Teixeira, but Girardi seems to like the idea of Montero at least working out at the position.
• Girardi left no doubt: “Russell (Martin)’s our everyday catcher.”
Associated Press photo