With heavyweights like Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Robinson Cano nowhere near the box score, you could be charged with fraud for calling yesterday’s Yankees-Red Sox game at JetBlue Park a “preview” of the April 1 season opener at Yankee Stadium.
Yet with lefty Jon Lester on target to start for Boston on Opening Day, we might have seen two-thirds of the Yankees’ starting outfield here. More important, we probably saw the guy who, if everything goes according to plan, will start most of the Yankees’ games in left field.
Brett Gardner’s start in left field prompted a series of questions that led manager Joe Girardi to admit that, yeah, that whole Gardner-Curtis Granderson position flip is pretty much done. When Granderson returns from his right forearm injury — in early May, the Yankees hope — he’ll almost certainly resume his position in center field.
“That’s what we’ve talked about,” Girardi said. “I’m not 100 percent sure, but that’s what we’ve talked about.”
The outfield composition during Granderson’s absence remains in doubt, and that’s why youngster Melky Mesa started in center yesterday, moving Gardner over to left. This is one potential alignment against lefty pitching, with Ichiro Suzuki starting in right. Or Gardner could be in center, Ichiro could move over to left and either youngster Zolio Almonte or veteran Juan Rivera could patrol right. Veteran Matt Diaz also remains a candidate.
No matter how it shakes out, the Yankees aim to tread water until Granderson’s return — at which point they’ll field the defense they didn’t want to field. Understandably, since there’s a significant difference between Granderson having an entire Grapefruit League to work on a new position and him having a handful of minor league contests to try it.
“I don’t know how many games he would have in his rehab coming back,” Girardi said of Granderson, “and that’s a concern for me. So I want him to be comfortable wherever he’s at, because his bat’s real important to us.”
Girardi ready to pull plug on Granderson, Gardner position flip
New York Post | Mar 4