For a second straight day, much of Joe Girardi’s pregame interview focused on the top of the order. And much like yesterday, today’s theme was: What’s the alternative? In a left-leaning lineup, Girardi is putting Curtis Granderson at the top because he gets on base better than most candidates and because Granderson at the top helps split the lefties in the middle.
Granderson hits a lot of home runs and strikes out a lot, but he also has good speed and a .344 on-base percentage against right handers (someone else will likely lead off against lefties).
“To me, the important thing is probably how much he gets on, right?” Girardi said. “Not how he makes his out. So the important thing is how often he gets on against right-handers, and he’s done a pretty good job of that.”
The obvious alternative is Ichiro Suzuki, but he’s really an alternative in name only.
“You could,” Girardi said. “But as much as you’d like to say he’s getting on base 40 percent of the time, he’s not. It’s about 31 percent of the time. And then you’ve got Grandy who’s higher than that, and Jeet’s higher than that, and Cano’s higher than that. If it were three or four years ago, it’s probably a different story.”
It’s also worth noting that Girardi doesn’t necessarily build his lineup from top to bottom.
“At times we talk about a lineup like it’s centered around one guy when you have to make nine pieces fit,” Girardi said. “You could say, we’re going to talk about one guy, and we’re going to put him here and then we’re going to build everything around that. You could do that. But your centerpiece in your lineup is probably Cano, so you look at him and you try to set your lineup the best way you can.”
• Girardi said Eric Chavez will definitely get a day off this series, but for now he’s hitting fifth because he has good numbers against Rick Porcello (granted, only four at-bats, but he’s 3-for-4 with a double and a triple).
• Chavez has become a crucial part of this lineup, especially considering he was supposed to play an incredibly minor role off the bench. “Maybe eight to 10 at-bats a week,” Girardi said. “At times he was going to get some at-bats, play some third, play some first, DH once in a while. I don’t think you ever imagined him playing 3rd base four out of five days, a couple days on, a day off. But that’s what it’s been, and he’s done a really good job for us.”
• Girardi was asked about not having Ichiro bunt last night after either of Chavez’s leadoff doubles. “Ichiro’s not a guy that bunts a lot, that’s never bunted a lot in his career,” Girardi said. “So you’re asking a guy to do something he hasn’t done a lot of. He’s bunted for a few hits a few times a year ut he’s also a guy that knows how to handle the bat, too. If you think it’s going be a 1-0 game or 2-1 game, I don’t know. So it is something you could look at, but it is a guy who’s pretty proficient at handling the bat. And the other thing is you got a strikeout pitcher on the mound, and it’s got to be a pretty deep sacrifice fly. You could play the infield depth at a certain place and still have a chance to get Chavy, and then you have to make a pretty good bunt to bunt him over. So there’s a lot of factors that go into that.”
• Girardi went on to compare Chavez’s speed to that of Jorge Posada, which is probably fair. “It’s reality,” Girardi said. “It’s what you got.”
• Bob Davidson is the home plate umpire tonight. Davidson ejected both Girardi and Kevin Long the last time the Yankees were in Detroit, but Girardi said it’s a non-issue, and he’s felt no need to address it with Davidson. “The first couple times (being ejected) I probably thought a lot of it,” Girardi said. “Now, I don’t want to say I’m Bobby Cox, but I’ve been thrown out enough to know you just put it behind you. And I they do too.”
Associated Press photos