NEW YORK -- The Yankees were buzzing over Robinson Cano's performance on Friday night, which included three hits, three runs and an absolute blast of a grand slam -- all in the second baseman's first start as a cleanup hitter.
"He's really making a name for himself, and I still don't think he gets the credit he deserves," Nick Swisher said after the game. "People better start watching him."
Manager Joe Girardi was just as effusive in his praise early Saturday, citing Cano's consistency throughout the season and against both right-handers and left-handers. His grand slam on Friday was his seventh homer against a southpaw -- the most for any player in the Major Leagues, let alone for left-handed hitters.
"I don't think that he changes his approach," Girardi said of Cano against fellow lefties. "He has the ability to go the other way. It helps that he's never been platooned; he's always been a guy the organization has left in there every day."
Whatever it is, it's certainly paying off this season. It's hard to say Cano has really emerged since he's already been a key contributor of a World Series championship team. At the same time, there aren't many people who expected him to be quite this good in 2010.
Girardi himself said it would be hard to argue against including Cano in a list of the game's 10 best players.
"Right now, he's playing as good as anybody," Girardi said. "I would hate to put a ceiling on him, because I'm not sure what it is. I would hate to shortchange him."
No cause for concern as Granderson sits
NEW YORK -- Though he was not in the starting lineup for Saturday's game against the Indians, Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson reported no soreness after his return from a groin injury on Friday.
Manager Joe Girardi gave Granderson the day off for a combination of reasons -- including that Granderson had played back-to-back days with his rehab assignment, that it was a day game after a night game and that the Yankees are facing left-hander David Huff.
Girardi said he might give Granderson another day off next weekend in Toronto, after which "he'll be full go."
Granderson himself said Friday night that the injury wasn't much of a concern.
"The actual injury doesn't bother me. It's just the rest of my body," Granderson said, adding that the feeling was similar to the start of Spring Training. "It's going to be a lot of work just to get back in the groove of things."
Granderson went 1-for-3 in his return with a double and a run scored. Kevin Russo got the start in left field with Brett Gardner sliding over to center.
Mitre can offer Yanks flexibility in bullpen
NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano's seventh-inning grand slam also gave manager Joe Girardi the breathing room needed to reshuffle his bullpen a little in Friday's 8-2 rout of the Indians. With the lead pushed to six runs, Girardi used Sergio Mitre for the eighth and Chan Ho Park for the ninth. With the addition of Chad Gaudin as a long reliever and the setback suffered by Alfredo Aceves, the Yankees are hoping to transition Mitre into more of a middle reliever and to get Park on track.
Mitre has been a starter for the majority of his career, but the Yankees are looking for him to fill the role vacated by Aceves, who is suffering from a bulging disk in his back.
"He's a guy who can maybe throw two days in a row, give us an inning or two, maybe bounce back and throw the next day," Girardi said of Mitre. "With Chad, we have two guys who can really give us distance and it changes the way we use Sergio."
General manager Brian Cashman referred to Mitre as a "jack of all trades" out of the 'pen.
Park, meanwhile, turned in his best outing since coming off the disabled list on May 17. Park worked a scoreless ninth, striking out two and allowing one hit. He had allowed at least one run in all four of his previous appearances since returning from a hamstring injury.
"The velocity was a lot better last night," Girardi said of Park. "His curveball had more bite to it. He located better, so there was a definite difference in his stuff."
Fine 15: Saturday a milestone for Jeter
NEW YORK -- Has it really been 15 years?
It was May 29, 1995, that Derek Jeter first started a game for the Yankees -- an 8-7 loss to a Mariners team that would end the Bombers' season in a memorable American League Division Series later that year. In the decade and a half since, Jeter has led the Yankees to five championships, ascended to the team captaincy and placed his name among the franchise's leaders in almost every major statistical category.
Jeter is first in hits, first in at-bats, fourth in runs scored, fifth in batting average, 10th in home runs and 10th in RBIs in team history. Not too shabby for a shortstop who went 0-for-5 in that first start at the Kingdome.
"Incredible player, incredible teammate and incredible man," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He just seems to get the most of everything he does in life."
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.