Yes, it’s early. But Travis Hafner has been productive for the Yankees so far as the DH against righties, helping to make up for half an All-Star team that’s on the disabled list right now.
“You always want to get off to a good start,” Hafner said. “It’s important for the season. With some guys out of the lineup who are normally middle-part-of-the-order hitters, it’s important. Really, everybody has picked up the slack. A lot of guys have swung the bats really well. You just want to contribute and help the team win.”
The 35-year-old lefty hitter, who left Cleveland after 10 years and signed on Feb. 1 for one year and $2 million plus bonuses, is at .310 (9 for 29) with two homers, six RBI and five walks.
“He has fit in great,” Joe Girardi said. “He has brought stability to the middle of our order, a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, a guy that’s selective, that has long counts, that’s going to really work a pitcher and grind out his at-bat.”
A perfect example came in the decisive seventh-inning rally in Friday night’s 5-2 win over the Orioles. The Yankees had runners at the corners and two outs in a 2-2 game. Hafner worked the count full against lefty reliever Troy Patton before getting drilled in the left thigh. Vernon Wells followed against Pedro Strop with a fly to deep center that Adam Jones dropped for a three-run error.
The Yankees will have to hope Hafner stays healthy, something he struggled to do with the Indians, especially the last five years.
“I like the role that I’m in,” Hafner said. “I think it’ll help keep me really fresh and hopefully be able to continue to contribute.”
This is a link to my full feature story today on Hafner.