The Yankees new left fielder is playing right field again, which, of course, it makes perfect sense. With Nick Swisher still dealing with his strained hip flexor, why not fill his spot with a guy who’s play the position extremely well — in this very stadium — for more than a decade?
But at some point, the Yankees are going to actually put Ichiro Suzuki in left. And they’re going to trust that it will come naturally.
“Right now, he takes BP and he’s (shagging fly balls) in right field,” Joe Girardi said. “But we’re just going to throw him out there. I’ve talked about how he’s athletic enough. I know it’s been a long time since he’s done it, but the best experience he’s going to get is just going out there. I’m sure the days he’s playing left field he’ll take his work out there. I’m sure that’s what he’s going to do.”
Ichiro has express no real concerns about moving from right to left. He’s only played the position once in the big leagues, and that was in 2001, but he’s a good fielder with good range.
“There’s always a concern that there’s somewhat of a risk involved and the ball is going to come at a little bit of a different angle, and it’s a little bit of a different feel,” Girardi said. “But you’ve got to trust that his experience as an outfielder is really going to help him in that situation. It’s probably harder than most of us imagine, in a sense. You just say he’s a good outfielder, and he can be a good outfielder everywhere. But it’s different. I’ve never really played the outfield so it’s hard for me to tell you exactly how it’s going to feel.”
Nick Swisher has more than 100 left-field starts in his career — including some with the Yankees — but Girardi said he never really considered moving Swisher. He prefers Ichiro’s range at that position.
“I think with the way our ballpark is, it just makes sense to put (Ichiro) in left and keep Swish in right,” Girardi said.
• Brett Gardner had his elbow surgery today. “Everything went well,” Girardi said. “They took out that tissue that they had to take out. We’ll get a chance to see him when we get back and get a better idea what we’re looking at.”
• Girardi said doctors also removed a small bone spur in Gardner’s elbow, but it sounds like doctors don’t believe the sput played a significant role in his slow recovery. “You could probably go in your elbow and find a little bone spur,” Girardi said.
• Joba Chamberlain pitched a hitless inning today. Girardi said he honestly doesn’t know whether he’s going to also pitch tomorrow. “At some point he’s going to do it,” Girardi said. “Let’s just see how he feels today and go from there.”
• By the way, Chamberlain’s defense included Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and Slade Heathcott in left field. That’s only Heathcott’s third outfield start since coming back from shoulder surgery.
• Chris Stewart has been catching Freddy Garcia recently, so he gets the start today, freeing Russell Martin to start tomorrow’s day game.
• Dave Robertson is fine after last night’s unusual stumble off the mound. He said he was fine last night, and that was still the case today.
• Girardi said he feels no need to talk to Andruw Jones or Raul Ibanez about their roles now that Ichiro is on the roster. “They understand that originally they were brought here to be a DH,” Girardi said. “There’s going to be days that I probably maybe play Raul (in the outfield). I might DH Ichiro one day just to give him a rest. That’s what they were brought here to do. I’ll say something if I think there’s an issue, but I think they understood. They’re not 22 and looking over their shoulder.”
• If you didn’t assume this already, Girardi made it clear that Ichiro will be — essentially — an everyday player. “If I’m going to give him a day off it’s going to be against a left-hander,” Girardi said. “That’s something that I can do. It’s not like he hasn’t played against left-handers in his career, but I think you also have to look at him. He’s 38 too. He plays every day. A day off once in a while probably wouldn’t hurt him.”
• Darnell McDonald has officially reported to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
• Felix Hernandez on the mound for the Mariners. “Hit his mistakes,” Girardi said. “That’s the best I think you can do. He’s an outstanding pitcher and you’ve got to hit his mistakes.”
Associated Press photos