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07/25/08 7:32 PM ET

Yanks rooks train for Fenway's left field

Gardner, Christian get up close, personal with Green Monster

BOSTON -- Like many young outfielders, Brett Gardner and Justin Christian spent their first afternoon at Fenway Park on Friday staring up at the Green Monster, listening to baseballs thwack toward it with an unmistakable sound.

With Johnny Damon unable to play defense in at least the first game of the Yankees' series in Boston, the pair of rookies were patrolling left field at 2 p.m. ET, taking balls off the wall with bench coach Ron Thomson and also hanging around to take batting practice for this weekend's series.

"They have a little bit of experience," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Gardner started in left field for the Yankees on Friday and thought back to two ballparks that he said played similarly -- Hadlock Field in Portland, Maine, and Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, N.C.

"You just do your best to get acclimated to it," Gardner said. "Obviously, there are a lot of different variables -- who's hitting, where it comes off the wall and how hard it's hit. You just get used to it and put yourself in good position to make a play on it."

Girardi said that he had no qualms with putting a pair of inexperienced outfielders up against the specter of the Green Monster, recalling that former big leaguer Mike Aldrete once stepped in and played it expertly.

"These two kids are athletes," Girardi said. "They should be able to handle it with no problems. They saw some of the tricky bounces."

Damon was optimistic that his sore left shoulder would permit him to play left field as early as Saturday, but Girardi said that Sunday was possibly the best-case scenario, provided the manager was satisfied with his throwing.

"I'm going to try," Damon said. "I want to be out there as quick as I can, but I also have to be smart."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.