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Putting together the lineup

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Kevin Youkilis is in. Ichiro Suzuki is in. With most of the key pieces in place, what might the Yankees lineup look like on Opening Day?

1. Ichiro Suzuki RF
2. Derek Jeter SS
3. Robinson Cano 2B
4. Mark Teixeira 1B
5. Curtis Granderson LF
6. Kevin Youkilis 3B
7. Designated hitter
8. Brett Gardner CF
9. Chris Stewart C

[3]Given the rest of the lineup, it seems to make more sense to bat Jeter second, moving one of the speedy lefties to the leadoff spot. I can’t help wondering if spring training might be a legitimate competition between Ichiro and Gardner to figure out which one would should hit at the top of the order and which one moves to the bottom. Gardner is coming off a lost season and has never had sustained leadoff success in the big leagues, but his patience and speed suggest a leadoff type. Ichiro has been one of the most dynamic leadoff men in baseball history, but most of his past two years have been disappointing.

Ideally, not batting leadoff would move either Ichiro or Gardner in the ninth spot — that second leadoff man that we hear so much about — but I’m not sure it makes sense given a lineup with a clearly defense-first catcher. No matter which catcher wins that job, it makes sense to minimize his at-bats as much as possible.

What to look for in that wide open designated hitter spot? It’s strange to say it, but the Yankees legitimately need some additional power. There are four guys in this lineup who don’t have much pop, and Youkilis’ slugging percentage dipped last season. The Yankees had Granderson batting second more much of last season, and they’re used to having Nick Swisher hitting sixth, so their used to considerable slugging up and down the order. Some power from the DH — either from one guy or from a platoon situation — could help create the sort of lineup the organization is used to.

Associated Press photo