Brett Gardner admitted to being caught off guard when he heard the Yankees had signed Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason.

“I was surprised at first. I didn’t really see it coming,” Gardner said.

So it didn’t take him long to join many others in wondering what his future was with the Yankees.
“You hear all the trade speculation once we signed Ellsbury,” Gardner said. “He’s got the same kind of skill-set, so obviously the wheels start turning.”

Ever since the move, general manager Brian Cashman said he thought the two could play alongside each other, and the trade talk has since quieted, especially since Gardner likely would have been moved for a starting pitcher — something the Yankees addressed by signing Masahiro Tanaka.

And though Cashman publicly supported the idea of Ellsbury and Gardner playing in the outfield together, Gardner also heard from manager Joe Girardi.

“He called to check in on how I was feeling mentally and to explain it didn’t mean they didn’t want me around,” Gardner said of the conversation, which came around Christmas. “They still envision me playing a big role on this team. I didn’t expect anyone to reach out to me.”

Yet, Gardner’s future remains somewhat murky — even if he stays in The Bronx. He’s about to head into a free-agency season, and before Ellsbury arrived Gardner was the everyday center fielder and leadoff hitter. Now, he figures to be in left and toward the bottom of the order if Derek Jeter is healthy.