Yankees pregame: Grandy off center? • 05.05.13
The Yankees had seemed to have passed on moving Curtis Granderson from center to left after he broke his right forearm in his first at-bat of his first exhibition game and missed spring training. But Joe Girardi today opened up the possibility again that Granderson may not be in center when he returns, that Brett Gardner may stay there.
“We’ll decide that as time goes on,” Girardi said. “We’ve talked about Grandy; we just want to get him healthy. People have asked me a lot about, ‘When Grandy comes back, what are you going to do with your outfield if you have three guys who are playing pretty well?’ I said, ‘Well, Grandy is going to play. He’s a big part of our offense.’ But as we’ve seen around here, a lot can happen in a couple of weeks.”
Later, Girardi added, ‘We might toy around with some other things (for Granderson), left, right, other things. He’s getting reps everywhere right now.”
But that isn’t happening with Gardner next to him.
“That’s not my concern,” Girardi said. “My concern is how he reacts in all the different spots.”
Granderson has been playing extended spring games. And, of course, he had to get hit by a pitch Saturday in the arm. But this was in the triceps, according to Girardi.
“From what I understand, he’s OK. He’s kind of picking up where he left off,” Girardi said about him getting hit again.
The minor-league complex in Tampa will be packed with rehabbing major leaguers with several others set to join Granderson, including Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
“I know there’s a lot of big people there,” Girardi said. “I understand that. But that’s not going to be the focus of my day. The focus of my day is the people in this room right now and winning the game.”
David Robertson played catch for the second straight day. He plans to test that lower left hamstring again Tuesday prior to the game in Colorado, throwing on flat ground and then throwing a few pitches off a mound if that goes well. He said he just has a little tightness now.
“I don’t see why I can’t be ready,” Robertson said.
Andy Pettitte struggled without his signature cutter in his last start, against the Astros. Girardi doesn’t expect that to be a problem today, against the A’s.
“I’ll be completely shocked if it’s not there today,” Girardi said.
Yankees react to bad news on Jeter • 04.19.13
Derek Jeter is gone until at least after the All-Star break after breaking his left ankle again. (My article today about the situation). The Yankees are getting used to bad injury news. They’ve had a lot of practice reacting so far this year.
“He’s our captain, leader,” Phil Hughes said. “It’s never good news when guys are going to be out longer than you expect. But we’ve got to continue to battle along like we have been.”
The Yankees have won seven of their last nine to move to 8-6.
“It’s tough, but we haven’t had him yet,” Brett Gardner said. “When you don’t have guys, you can’t really count on them to come back. You’ve just got to make do with what you’ve got. I feel like we’ve been playing pretty good baseball so far. We’ll try to keep it going.”
Of course, Eduardo Nunez becomes even more of a key figure as the main man replacing Jeter. Nunez made his first error of the season, on a bad throw to first, in Thursday night’s 12-inning, 6-2 setback to the Diamondbacks. He also missed a grounder he probably should have had. But his defense has been better overall so far than last year. Now he needs to stay consistent. And hit more. He’s batting .233 over his 11 games.
Before the game, and before the update came on Jeter, Nunez said, “I hope he comes back this year. I hope he comes back healthy. But I’m prepared to play all year. … This is what I’ve been working for all my life.”
After the game and the update, Nunez expressed mixed feelings, saying, “It’s good for me to keep playing, but it’s not what I’m looking for.”
Also, Phil Hughes was much improved Thursday night (here’s that story), so at least he can try to build off that. And in my Yankees notebook for today, I write about Travis Hafner’s good health being a key, have Brian Cashman explaining why it’s hard right now to bring in shortstop reinforcements and look ahead to the Toronto series that starts tonight.
Yankees postgame: Train keeps rolling • 04.17.13
The Yankees have now won three straight and seven of eight after this come-from-behind 4-3 win over Arizona. They’re 8-5 after the 1-4 start and despite all those marquee-name injuries.
“It’s early, but we’ve got a pretty good team,” CC Sabathia said. “The guys filling in are doing a great job.”
Travis Hafner would be one of those guys. After sitting around for two-plus hours, he sent up that pinch solo shot in the eighth. He’s now hitting .342 with four homers and eight RBI in 12 games.
“I’ve been swinging the bat pretty well,” Hafner said. “I’m having a great time.”
Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson did believe what he just saw from Hafner, hitting that first-pitch, 96 mph fastball from David Hernandez.
“He’s hit a lot out like that,” Gibson said. “Obviously, not a good spot to throw it.”
Gibson also wasn’t thrilled with lefty reliever Tony Sipp’s fastball away to Brett Gardner with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh. That resulted in the tying two-run single.
“The ball is up and out over the plate, and give the guy some credit; he hit where he should have,” Gibson said.
Gardner was happier, saying, “With two outs and the bases loaded, it’s kind of all on you. It feels good to be able to come through.”
Sabathia threw 31 pitches in the two-run first, then threw just 77 over the next seven.
“I think he just battled through it,” Joe Girardi said. “We’ve seen CC do that a number of times where maybe he doesn’t have his ‘A’ stuff and he finds a way to keep you in the game and doesn’t give up big innings. There’s a lot that can be learned for how he goes about his business.”
I’ll have more from Girardi on Sabathia’s diminished velocity in my morning post.
It’s been said that Joe Girardi has one of the easiest jobs in baseball: Just write down the names of a bunch of superstars, call it a lineup, and go win 95 games. Things are a bit different this season, and Girardi acknowledged that this Opening Day lineup took him a little longer than usual.
“It’s a little bit more,” he said. “You look at some of the positions that you’re going to do, and more about where you’re going to put guys in the lineup, in a sense, than maybe who’s playing. Trying to divide up your lefties a little bit against Lester, and having some new faces in Wells and Francisco, trying to figure out where to put them. So there was a little bit more thought.”
Girardi settled on moving Eduardo Nunez near the top of the lineup, strictly to split the lefties. Ichiro Suzuki is batting seventh today, but Girardi said Ichiro will move up to the No. 2 spot when the Yankees face right-hander Clay Buchholz on Wednesday.
“We’ve liked the way Nuney has swung the bat,” Girardi said. “I didn’t particularly want to put three lefties in a row against Lester to start the game. We’ve liked Gardy’s ability to get on base, so I put him in the leadoff spot. And without Jeet, I thought we should put a right-hander in there, and we’ve liked what Nuney has done.”
• Based on this spring’s catching matchups, I really assumed Chris Stewart would catch CC Sabathia today. Then again, I also thought Girardi would stick with Ichiro in the No. 2 spot even against a lefty, so what do I know? “I think the first month, it will be somewhat of a process of figuring out exactly how you’re going to (use the catchers),” Girardi said. “You can play spring training games, but playing in-season games is different. The things you have to handle are different. Your emotions are different. It was something that I thought about the last three or four days. Talked to my coaches about it, and right now it’s probably going to be a fairly even split.”
• It’s worth noting that Cervelli is actually a career .317/.414/.393 hitter against lefties.
• According to Brian Cashman, Derek Jeter is scheduled to play catch and undergo treatment today. “There is no exact schedule for Derek because it’s what his ankle allows him to do,” Girardi said. “And we’re really not going to know that until he goes out there.”
• Have not seen Alex Rodriguez, but apparently he’s here. It’s still unclear just how much of the pregame ceremonies he’ll be a part of. “Introductions are usually not the first thing on my mind when I come in here,” Girardi said. “I’m anxious to see him. I want to see how he’s moving around in a sense because I haven’t seen him since, probably the end of January when he was just starting to ride a bike. What he chooses to do today is his prerogative, and I’m fine with whatever he chooses to do.”
• Also no sign of Mark Teixeira, who’s supposed to visit the doctor this morning. I know he was expecting to be out of the checkup in time to be here for the ceremonies.
• A few observations from the clubhouse: Dave Robertson’s has been given a new locker, the one right next to Mariano Rivera. Eduardo Nunez also has a new locker in between Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez. Francisco Cervelli’s old locker now belongs to Chris Stewart, so he’s in Nick Swisher’s old locker. Joba Chamberlain moved to Robertson’s old locker, David Phelps move to Chamberlain’s old locker, Cody Eppley moved to Phelps’ old locker, and Adam Warren has Eppley’s old locker.
• Not great news for Brennan Boesch and Lyle Overbay: They have the lockers generally given to players who bounce back and forth from Triple-A.
• In case it didn’t go without saying, Girardi said the Yankees will stick with just one left-handed reliever for the time being. “You look at our eighth inning and our ninth inning, and that’s nailed down,” Girardi said. “My hope is Joba will nail down the seventh inning. If there’s a lefty we want Boone to face in the seventh inning, we might do that, and then have Joba go after the righties. But I figure, if you can nail down the seventh, eighth and ninth, you can use Boonie earlier.”
• Someone from a Japanese television station said during Girardi’s pregame press conference that Hideki Matsui has been given Japan’s highest civilian honor. “Congratulations to Hideki,” Girardi said. “I think everybody is aware of what this organization thinks of Hideki Matsui. He’s a wonderful man, he was a wonderful player. Did a lot for the New York Yankees in his time here, and represented us very, very well. I think from the Yankees standpoint, we’d like to congratulate him because he’s a man who deserves a great honor.”
• The Yankees will honor the Sandy Hook victims and first responders before today’s game. “I think it’s important to say thank you,” Girardi said. “The town of Newtown has went through so much during the last four or five months, six months, and you think about being a responder. Sometimes we don’t think about what they go through, and how important they are during a situation like that. I think it’s nice that we’re getting an opportunity to say thank you for all that you do, because they’re obviously going to do more as the future goes on.”
• The video above is Girardi’s opening comments from this morning’s pregame press conference.
Associated Press photo
Video: Yankees go through pop up drills • 02.20.13
Tony Pena was running the machine for today’s pop up and fly ball drill on the main field. At one point, I noticed he seemed to be aiming the machine right at me. You’ll notice in the video below, after Dan Johnson makes a play in foul territory, I’m pretty slow turning the camera back to the field. I’d actually turned my head to Pena to try to determine whether I need to get out of the way.
Obviously some other things came up today, but I do think this morning’s Pinc Hitter post is worth discussing. After all, it is kind of amazing that after five years, we’re still not entirely sure what Brett Gardner can do.
The bulk of his big league experience has come in left field, not center, so we have yet to see his glove in its most natural and impactful environment. Despite marginal left-right splits — his career on-base percentage is actually higher against lefties — there’s always been a tendency to platoon him, so he’s only come close to 600 plate appearances in a season once. His career slash line (.266/.355/.368) is remarkably similar to Michael Bourn’s (.272/.339/.365), yet Bourn is a two-time All-Star while Gardner remains fairly anonymous.
Small tangent to prove just how annonymous Gardner is. — Last spring, Daily News beat writer Mark Feinsand and I went for a quick postgame dinner at Chipotle. The guy waiting on us had a Yankees tatoo on his arm and was telling people in line that one of the actual Yankees had just been in the restaurant to get a burrito. The guy behind the counter was extremely excited by this brush with fame, yet he couldn’t remember the player’s name. He said it was the fast little left fielder. Mark asked if it was Gardner. “Yeah, that’s his name!” the guy said.
Anyway, this morning, Pinch Hitter Emilio made the case that Gardner coming back from injury will be the Yankees “biggest improvement” since last season. A few days ago, Mike Axisa wrote something similar about Gardner’s potential impact. If you’re waiting for me to disagree, well…
Mariano Rivera is also coming back from an injury, but Rivera-for-Soriano is a fairly even swap. Ichiro Suzuki will be with the Yankees for a full year this season, but at this point of his career, he’s probably not a better player than Nick Swisher. Kevin Youkilis is a new face, but he’s not necessarily an upgrade on Alex Rodriguez.
So, yes, I agree that Gardner is going to be the Yankees biggest upgrade. He won’t hit for Raul Ibanez’s power, but he’ll certainly play better defense and give the Yankees a different sort of threat. Getting Gardner off the disabled list could be the equivalent of signing Bourn, except without the large contract and lost draft pick.
Just two questions to add: Does the current roster mean the Yankees finally in a position to take full advantage of Gardner’s skill set? And after he turns 30 near the end of the season, will Gardner play a role in whatever comes next, or will he be dismissed as a part of the previous era?
Putting Gardner in center field would be a good start toward a positive answer to the first question. Part of Gardner’s value comes in his ability to play center, and he has the potential of being an impact defensive player at the position. Another step toward taking full advantage might be putting him at the very top of the order. He has a career .355 on-base percentage, and even in his down years he’s had an OBP of .345. If that’s a repeatable statistic and Gardner can reach base more often than Ichiro — who had a .340 OBP after coming to the Yankees last year — then Gardner belongs at the top of the order, with Jeter second and Robinson Cano third. If Gardner really can produce like Bourn, then the Yankees have to treat him like Bourn.
Beyond 2013, Gardner’s future might depend on cost and alternatives. He has one year of arbitration left, which means he’s under team control for 2014 and could hit the open market before the 2015 season. Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams are on their way, but can the Yankees count on them enough to let go of a potential value signing like Gardner?
This season offers a chance to really discover what Gardner can do. When the Yankees find out, they just might have a player worth keeping.
Associated Press photo
Pinch hitting: Emilio Estevez • 01.29.13
This is how today’s Pinch Hitter introduced himself in an email: “My name is Emilio Estevez (yes, just like the actor).”
Obviously, the name had to be addressed. With that out of the way…
Our Emilio was born in the Dominican Republic, “where baseball is more of a lifestyle than just a game,” he wrote. His family moved to New York when he was 4 years old, and now that he’s 27, Emilio is living in Kansas City, working as an engineer and still following the Yankees “like my life depended on it.”
Although he says Mariano Rivera is his favorite player, it’s not the return of the Yankees closer that Emilio wrote about.
To put it mildly, the Raul Ibanez/Andruw Jones duo was not good last year. Ibanez had the most memorable moment of the Yankees season with his pinch hit home run in Game 3 of the ALDS — and for that I will always be grateful — but the truth is that a .240/.308/.453 line is not good. If you like sabermetrics, his WAR of 0.3 (according to baseball-reference) should be a pretty good indicator of his value. Jones was just plain bad, hitting .197/294/.408 in 94 games.
Having said that, I will now spend the next 400 words gushing over how much I like the alternative.
Gardner has two major skills on offense: he can get on base and he can steal bases. During his two healthy seasons (2010 and 2011) he stole 96 bases; only Michael Bourn had more with 113. During this time, Gardner had an on-base percentage of .364, which gave him the highest on-base percentage of any player who had more than 50 stolen bases during those two seasons (Andrew McCutchen was tied with Gardner with an OBP of .364). The big advantage of Gardner over other ‘speedy’ players is that he is good at getting on base; you can’t say that about many of them.
Defensively, whether you like advanced defensive metrics or if you prefer the “eye test,” Gardner rates as an elite defender. He led all left fielders in DRS (defensive runs saved) and UZR (ultimate zone rating) in both 2010 and 2011. He has excellent range and a very good arm; Gardner had the fourth most outfield assists among left fielders during 2010 and 2011 combined. We can safely say that he is a huge improvement defensively over Ibanez or Jones.
The Yankees last season ranked 22nd in stolen bases. With a healthy Gardner, this area will be much improved in 2013. The Yankees were also last in triples with just 13 all season; Gardner hit seven triples in 2010 and eight in 2011. My point is that Gardner gives the Yankees offense another dimension which was lacking last year, and that is the ability of creating runs on the base paths.
Having an elite defensive left fielder, who is also one of the base-stealers in the game, who can also get on base regularly, on a team that is otherwise very slow on the bases is a big improvement over a worse-than-average left fielder who can’t get on base and who will occasionally hit a home run.
I, for one, can’t wait to see Gardner back out there making pitchers nervous and chasing down fly balls in the outfield.
Associated Press photo
State of the organization: Corner outfield • 01.18.13
There’s a reason — beyond the obvious talent — that Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Upton and Mike Morse generated so much trade talk among Yankees fans this winter. A big, power-hitting, prototypical corner outfielder would fit incredibly well on this roster. The minor league system might have a legitimate outfield slugger on the way, but he’s at least a year away, and for the time being, the Yankees outfield is filled with two small-ball players and one all-or-nothing free agent to be. Those are three legitimate pieces, but the Yankees outfield could certainly make room for one of Brian Cashman’s big, hairy monsters if he could find one.
Curtis Granderson / Ichiro Suzuki
Signed through 2013 /2014
We know Suzuki will be in right field. We can only guess whether Granderson or Brett Gardner will be in left (as I wrote a couple of days ago, I’m heading into spring training expecting Gardner to shift to center). Either way, the Yankees are going to have considerable speed in their outfield and should cover a lot of ground. They’re going to count on Gardner and Ichiro to run on offense, and on Granderson to hit home runs. What’s still unclear is who they’re going to count on to hit against lefties. Matt Diaz is coming to camp on a minor league deal, and Russ Canzler is going to try to win a job in spring training, but Cashman has made no secret of the fact he’d like to add another right-handed hitting corner outfielder. Nick Swisher gave the Yankees a steady right field presence for four years, and he’s been difficult to fully replace this winter.
On the verge
Maybe Tyler Austin can play his way into the big league picture this year, but it’s more likely that immediate help will have to come from either Zoilo Almonte or Ronnier Mustelier, two players who really weren’t even worth watching two years ago. Almonte was signed way back in 2005, but he didn’t put himself on the map until 2011 when he cut down on his strikeouts and hit .276/.345/.459 between High-A and Double-A. His power numbers went up during a full Double-A season last year, and now he has a 40-man spot with a Triple-A job on the way. He’s a switch hitter who was especially good against righties last year (it hasn’t always been that way). Mustelier is a Cuban defector who didn’t join the Yankees until 2011 when he was already 26 years old. He’s too old to be considered a typical prospect, but he’s hit .324/.378/.497 through two pro seasons, including a pretty good 89 games in Triple-A last year. He’s played some second base and center field, but Mustelier’s ticket to the big leagues might be his ability to play all four corners. He’s kind of a less proven version of Canzler, who’s probably higher in the pecking order. Under certain circumstances, center fielders Melky Mesa and Abe Almonte could also factor into the corner conversation.
Deeper in the system
Austin is easily the top corner outfield prospect in the system, and he appears to have been a 13th-round steal. Drafted out of high school in 2010, Austin was the unquestionable breakout star of the Yankees minor league system last year. He hit .322/.400/.559 while climbing all the way from Charleston to Trenton. Despite that little bit of Double-A experience, the Yankees are considering sending Austin back to High-A to open this season. If he repeats last year’s results, he won’t stay there for long. Austin’s breakout season easily overshadowed Ramon Flores, a left-fielder who has a knack for getting on base (.362 on-base percentage in his minor league career). Flores was added to the 40-man this winter and is ticketed for Trenton. It’s hard to mention all of the system’s mildly interesting corner outfielders — converted third baseman Rob Segedin, under-the-radar Cuban prospect Adonis Garcia, does-a-little-of-everything Ben Gamel, and 2012 draftees Taylor Dugas and Nathan Mikolas are names worth knowing — but I’ll save room for Jake Cave, the Yankees sixth-round pick in 2011 who’s hardly played since being drafted because of a knee injury. Cave could have been drafted as either a left-handed pitcher or an outfielder, but the Yankees liked his bat. There’s upside to him, just no professional track record.
On the move
College outfielder Rob Refsnyder played right field for the Yankees Low-A team last year but seems likely to shift to second base next season. On the flip side, long-time middle infielder Jose Pirela began to see considerable time in left field last year and kept at least a little bit of prospect status alive with a strong Double-A season. The Yankees have shown a willingness to move players into the outfield corners when necessary — that’s how Austin got there after signing as a corner infielder — and they could eventually do that with last year’s second-round pick Austin Aune, who will first get a chance to sink or swim as a shortstop. Obviously, if top center field prospects Mason Williams and Slade Heathcott each get to New York, one of them will have to shift to left field.
What to watch
The development of Austin is among the most interesting aspects of the Yankees system this season. Last year was a revelation, the kind of year that suggested he just might be a real life, in-house, power-hitting corner outfielder that can rise through the system and get to New York within two years. That would be huge for the Yankees. For now, the thing to watch is the Yankees on-going pursuit of a right-handed outfield bat and the how-long-can-he-last uncertainty of Ichiro’s two-year deal.
Associated Press photo; headshots of Granderson, Ichiro, Almonte, Mustelier, Austin, Flores, Williams and Heathcott
State of the organization: Center field • 01.16.13
Three years ago, the Yankees traded their center fielder of the future (who was basically ready for the big leagues) to acquire a center fielder of the present (who had a team-friendly contract through four more seasons). For the Yankees, the trade looked a lot better at this time last year, before Granderson took a step back and Jackson took a step forward. Now that Curtis Granderson is entering the final year of his contract, attention has shifted to the next wave of center fielders. It’s generally assumed that Granderson won’t be back next year — might not even be in center field this year — there are two players who can legitimately claim to be the Yankees center fielder of the future.
Second year of arbitration
I can’t tell you who exactly is going to play center field next season, but because the Yankees have acknowledged considering the idea of Gardner in center, I’m heading into spring training expecting that to happen. It’s not based on concrete facts — I honestly believe the Yankees are open to either option – but we’ve seen Granderson run a little less in recent years, my gut says that Gardner would be a better defensively, and it might make sense to go ahead and use Gardner in center now and go shopping for a left fielder next winter. Either way, the Yankees have options (even Ichiro Suzuki has proven he can still handle center if necessary). Gardner is an elite defensive player with speed. Granderson is, at the very least, one of the top power hitters in the game. The position is not a short-term concern for the Yankees.
On the verge
Speed, power and defense make Melky Mesa a tantalizing young player. Strikeouts make him a player who might never get more than the two Major League at-bats he had last season. In the minors last year, Mesa struck out 118 times, and that was actually his lowest single-season total since he reached full-season leagues. His Triple-A slash line of .230/.271/.524 pretty much tells the story of a guy who can hit the ball out (if he actually makes contact). Mesa can also run, but he is perhaps best known for failing to touch a base during his late-season call-up last year. He might be an all-or-nothing wild card, but Mesa does give the Yankees immediate depth in center. Zoilo Almonte has also played some center field in his career, and speedy Abe Almonte could be another option if he can build on a solid 2012 season in Trenton (and if he can get playing time on a crowded Scranton/Wilkes-Barre roster). Another name to watch here is Adonis Garcia. The Cuban outfielder played well in winter ball and could become an option if he hits.
Deeper in the system
I considered listing Slade Heathcott as an “on the verge” option, but I’m just not sure I buy Damon Oppenheimer’s optimism that Heathcott could be in the big leagues this year. Heathcott still hasn’t played above High-A Tampa, and although he was terrific in the Arizona Fall League, it’s hard to imagine the Yankees suddenly pushing Heathcott too hard (not when they’ve previously worked so hard just to keep him healthy). But even if he doesn’t arrive this year, Heathcott is on his way. So is Mason Williams. They are two of the Yankees truly elite prospects, and it seems likely that Heathcott will open this season in Double-A with Williams right behind him in High-A. Both have significant upside, but they still need some development time and some patience. Ravel Santana was a part of this conversation a year ago, but he struggled so badly in Staten Island last season — .216/.304/.289 — that his stock has taken a considerable hit.
On the move
Overshadowed on a stacked Charleston roster, 2010 10th-round pick Ben Gamel had a so-so first half last season, but after Williams was promoted, Gamel shifted from left field to center field and hit .320/.347/.419 in the second half. He doesn’t stand out in this system — and he might not see a ton of center field time considering the other options — but there’s something to like about him. It’s also worth noting that Ronnier Mustelier has played quite a bit of center field, including some time as a center field regular this winter. The Yankees have never shown signs of making that a go-to position for him, but he does have experience there. Like with shortstop, it’s rare to see a player shift from any other position into center field. It happens occasionally — Abe Almonte moved from second to center when he was extremely young — but for the most part, guys play their way out of center field, not into center field.
What to watch
There’s an fairly immediate decision to make. Are we going to see Gardner getting regular center field reps this spring? Are we going to see Granderson getting most of his time in left? The decision isn’t going to revolutionize the big league roster, but it’s going to be interesting to watch. For those who closely follow the minor leagues, it seems that every full-season team will have a center fielder worth watching. Can Mesa cut down on the strikeouts? Can Heathcott stay healthy? Can Williams carry his success to High-A? Can Santana get back on the prospect map (and will the Yankees make him repeat short-season ball)?
Associated Press photo; headshots of Gardner, Mesa, Heathcott, Williams and Gamel
Yankees pregame: Ichiro No. 2 again • 09.23.12
Brian Heyman back again for Chad today, rookie hazing day at the Stadium. The rookies are supposed to dress up in costumes left for them after the game for the trip to Minnesota. I do have a sense of humor, but never really cared for the whole hazing concept, even for NFL rookies having to sing their school fight songs for a room full of veterans. Anyway we’ll see what it’s in store after the game.
Nick Swisher has hit anywhere from second to seventh. He has batted second 51 times, but he’s in the five hole today. Ichiro Suzuki is batting second for the second straight game. He’s batting .700 over his last five games.
“He’s just swinging the bat so well, and it gives you a real speed element up there,” Joe Girardi said. “Swish has been really good in moving him around this year, because he’s one of our wild cards in breaking up all the lefties. So I’ve had to move him around a little bit without (Mark Teixeira) being here. We’ve been missing one of those right-handed bats or a switch-hitter for the last two and a half months basically with Al (Rodriguez) being out. So it’s just the way Ichi has been swinging and getting on base and can run, the speed that he has — it’s helped.”
The last six games against the A’s have been decided by one run.
“We were on the wrong end of four in a row at their place,” Girardi said. “We’ve been fortunate to win these last two. They’ve been very good ballgames. Who knows what’s going to happen today?”
Teixeira is set to fly to Tampa this afternoon to continue the rehab process. Brett Gardner still hasn’t been activated, but Girardi said he will travel with the team for this final road trip of the regular season.