Five games into the season, the Yankees are about to face their third left-handed starter. They’ve used a slightly different lineup in each of those games, with Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Andruw Jones each getting a turn at designated hitter.
Today’s lineup is noteable because of Brett Gardner, who’s in left field, getting his first start of the season against a lefty.
“Lefties have hit this guy a little bit better than right-handers,” Joe Girardi said. “Freddy (Garcia) is a guy that can be a fly ball pitcher at times. We put our defense out there and our lefties in there.”
Gardner does not have drastic career splits. His power and batting average dip a little against lefties, but his on-base percentage is basically the exact same. The decision to put him in a sort of platoon has more to do with getting Jones and Eduardo Nunez into the lineup, and keeping Jeter and Rodriguez rested.
“I do value (Gardner), and I told him, ‘You’re not going to sit against all lefties,'” Girardi said. “I think it’s important early on that you get Andruw going and he gets his at-bats against left-handers, and I want to get Nuney going as well. Sometimes I’m going to DH Alex or Jeet. Sometimes I might DH Jonesy, depending on if I like certain left-handers against the lefty. It’s more I’m looking at stats and the feeling about the guy that day.”
• Obvoiusly Gardner is a better defensive player than Andruw Jones, but Girardi doesn’t feel like Jones is a liability with the glove. “I think Andruw’s defense is somewhat underrated for the way he plays it,” Girardi said. “This is a guy that really just knows how to run to the spot.”
• Girardi called Andy Pettitte last night to talk about his three innings in Tampa. “I got him out of bed to see how he did,” Girardi said. “He threw the ball well, 32 pitches in three innings, gave up one earned run. We talked about he had one changeup, a slidestep changeup, that cut on him and that was the hit that he gave up, the double. He was pleased and pretty excited about how he threw.”
• Pettitte is expected to reach 45 pitches in his next outing, then he’ll probably get to 60 pitches in the start after that. Girardi said he’ll start to feel like Pettitte is close when he reaches 75 pitches. “After that you start thinking OK it’s getting pretty close here, we’re a couple of starts away, two or three more starts,” Girardi said. “That’s if everything goes well and there’s no hiccups along the way.”
• Girardi said he doesn’t expect any sort of carryover from last night’s shouting match between Russell Martin and Robert Andino. Girardi said he considers sign stealing part of the game — he tells his catchers that its their responsibility to keep signs from being stolen — but he also has no problem with Martin confronting a player who might be stealing them. “I think stealing signs has been in baseball a long time,” Girardi said. “Calling out people you think are stealing signs has been in the game a long time too. It’s all part of the merry go round we live on.”
• Girardi said he has not gotten a report from Tampa, but the plan was for Michael Pineda to play long toss and maybe throw a few flat-ground pitches. “Not a lot, a little bit,” Girardi said. Still no word on when Pineda might actually get in a game.
• Just a heads up that I think we’re going to try to do a chat tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. I’ll try to go for 45 minutes to an hour before Girardi addresses the media.
Associated Press photo