Travis Hafner knows he’s not supposed to be the Yankees cleanup hitter, but the job is his for the time being. And after a pretty bad spring training, he’s been pretty productive in his first seven games of the regular season.
“I was working on a bunch of things mechanically (in spring training),” he said. “And then basically scrapped everything and really tried to simplify my swing to the point where there’s nothing going on. And I’ve had a lot of success with that. It feels really good and really simple. Hopefully I’ve found something that can be really good and consistent.”
Not great and overwhelming, just good and consistent. That’s really what the Yankees need out of their new designated hitter. He’s one of Brian Cashman’s big, hairy monsters — a bald one, of course — who can put together a good at-bat and yank a few home runs to right field.
He’s supposed to be hitting sixth or seventh, but injuries have forced him into the middle of the order, and so far he’s hit .391/.481/.652 with the team lead in RBI. Granted, seven games are nearly meaningless in the grand scheme of things, but it’s all we have to go on right now, and Hafner’s been much better than he showed in March.
“He just started squaring balls up at the end of spring,” Joe Girardi said. “… Those guys (Hafner, Wells, Youkilis, etc.) have been great. They come over here, are asked to step up in a big area in the lineup where you talk about run producers. They’ve produced before, but they’re actually asked to really step up in our lineup because of the injuries, and they’re doing a tremendous job.”
The Yankees weren’t supposed to need Hafner this much, but now they do, and for at least these first few games, he’s filled in nicely.
“It’s fun to contribute to a win,” Hafner said. “That’s my goal, to drive in runs, and contribute when I can.”
Associated Press photo