Yanks shuffle lineup to break up lefties
Girardi moves Jeter to No. 2, Damon to third spot in order
NEW YORK -- The Great Derek Jeter Experiment, batting the Yankees captain in the leadoff position, is not over yet. But manager Joe Girardi's lineup did take on quite a different look on Sunday, most notably with Jeter batting in his traditional two hole, Johnny Damon hitting third and Mark Teixeira batting cleanup.
The reasoning, according to Girardi, was to split up left-handed hitters Brett Gardner, Robinson Cano and Hideki Matsui, who otherwise would have batted in one big clump at the bottom of the lineup.
"We just thought we needed to break up some of our lefties," Girardi said. "This is not something we're going to do every day."
The switch would not have been necessary if not for the presence of Matsui, who has started just one other game in the past week. Matsui, fighting the effects of fluid buildup in his surgically repaired left knee, pinch-hit in Saturday's game and lined a double into the right-center-field gap.
"He just looked different," Girardi said. "He looked like he was using his back side, his back leg, his left knee better. And then you watch him take the swing and he hits the ball in the gap, and that's different than what we've seen the past few days."
Had the Yankees gone with their normal lineup, batting Jeter first, Damon second and Teixeira third, they would have had four lefties and two switch-hitters -- both of whom batted from the left side of the plate against Indians starter Carl Pavano -- in a row. As it was, they had five.
Not a huge difference, but still a significant one.
Jeter, who has hit second in his career more than any other position combined, has hit there twice already this season. Damon has not hit third with any regularity since 1999, when he was with his first team, the Royals.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.