Brett Gardner has two sons, Hunter and Miller, ages 4 and 2, and it’s easy to picture them on a ballfield soon.

"They’re into everything," Gardner said. "Anything they can pick up and throw."

Any fly ball their fleet 29-year-old father can chase down could save the Yankees valuable runs, and there’s a chance manager Joe Girardi will try him in center field with Curtis Granderson switched to left.

"It’s something that if we do start toying with, we would do it really quickly," Girardi said, though the evaluation process still was continuing four days before the exhibition opener.

"If you flip-flop them, does it make you better defensively?" Girardi said. "That’s what we have to figure out."

Whatever that decision is, it won’t impact Gardner more than the knowledge that his once-damaged right elbow has healed completely.

Gardner had been nearly out all year when he returned to play in seven late-season games and five playoff games – including starts in Games 3 and 4 of the AL Championship Series.

"If nothing else, it gave me some peace of mind going into the off-season that my elbow is back to where it needed to be," Gardner said. "There’s no need to be concerned about it going into [this] season."

In Gardner’s absence, 40-year-old Raul Ibanez helped pick up the slack as the Yankees claimed the AL East title, though Girardi still "really missed" what his lefty-hitting sparkplug could bring.