Monday, February 25, 2013
The New York Yankees already knew their game plan was going to be a little different this year. The big home run hitting machine is no more. It's time to get back to the basics - moving runners, stealing bases, putting on the hit and run, etc. The ability to play small ball will be even more important with the loss of Curtis Granderson for a minimum of 10 weeks due to the broken right arm he suffered on Sunday.
One of the Yankees that Joe Girardi will be counting on the most is center fielder Brett Gardner. Girardi was hoping to give Granderson a look in left and move Gardner back to center where it is felt he is the superior defensive player of the two. With Granderson's injury Gardner gets center field back by default. Now they need his bat and speed to pick up some of the slack with Granderson's home run power out of the lineup.
Gardner missed all but 16 games of the 2012 regular season after he injured his right elbow in April and had to have it surgically repaired. This afternoon against the Baltimore Orioles, Gardner led off, played center field, and was 3-3 at the plate. Speed played a factor in two of the three hits as Gardner beat out an infield grounder (and dove into first base much to the dismay of everyone on the Yankees side of the field) and later bunted his way on.
It's that speed that the Yankees will count on to help produce runs. In a healthy 2011 season, Gardner swiped 49 bases in 62 attempts. In 2010 he was even better with 47 steals in just 53 tries. Gardner knows though that he has to be more aggressive when the game is on the line and not be worried about being thrown out. It's something that even the casual observer has noticed during Gardner's career.
The Yankees fell 5-1 to the Orioles Monday afternoon, breaking up the shutout in the 9th on a Walter Ibarra RBI. The Yankees had eight hits with Jayson Nix picking up a pair. Vidal Nuno started for the Yankees, who threw all minor leaguers on Monday. Brian Matusz started for the Orioles and tossed a pair of scoreless innings as he attempts to make it back to the rotation after a successful second half stint in the O's 2012 bullpen.
The Yankees play the Phllies in Clearwater on Tuesday at 1. The game will be televised live on the MLB Network.