03/29/11 4:23 PM ET
Girardi: 'Bank on' Jeter leading off against lefties
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
The only question is whether Jeter would also bat leadoff against righties, like he has over the last two seasons.
A YES Network report said Brett Gardner would be Girardi's leadoff hitter on Opening Day against the Tigers on Thursday, when right-hander Justin Verlander takes the ball for Detroit. But Girardi said he has yet to make a decision.
"I have not named that," he said. "... We'll talk about it on the plane ride."
Girardi's lineup for Thursday's game, against right-hander Rick Porcello, did have the lefty-hitting Gardner at the leadoff spot, with the righty-hitting Jeter batting second.
Prior to the game, Girardi said it was possible that the same lineup -- though potentially with center fielder Curtis Granderson in it -- would be the one he uses on Opening Day. Girardi has also said throughout spring that he wouldn't be opposed to deciding who his leadoff hitter is based on which side the opposing starter throws from.
Last year, Jeter had a .316 on-base percentage against righties and a .391 on-base percentage against lefties. Gardner had a .387 on-base percentage against righties and a .373 on-base percentage against lefties.
Regarding his top spot, Girardi says he only knows one thing for sure at this point.
"[Jeter] will leadoff [vs.] lefties," he said. "You can bank on that."
Granderson makes progress in sim game
TAMPA, Fla. -- It was just a simulated game on the backfields of George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday, but it was enough to make Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson feel encouraged about playing on Opening Day.
Granderson, nursing a right oblique strain, couldn't play defense because of soggy weather, but he did get six or seven at-bats against lefties and righties and said "every at-bat felt good," including swings-and-misses and check swings.
"Hopefully again tomorrow is the same thing and join up with these guys a day later," said Granderson.
If the weather holds up, the 30-year-old plans to play in a game against Pirates Minor Leaguers on Wednesday, then meet up with his teammates in New York for Thursday's Opening Day against his former club, the Tigers.
2010 Spring Training - New York Yankees
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If Granderson goes on the disabled list retroactively, he could be eligible to play by April 6.
Overall spring results please Girardi
TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees wrapped up Spring Training on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over the Tigers and a 13-15-3 record against all Grapefruit League opponents.
That is beside the point.
What Joe Girardi -- and basically every big league manager -- cares most about this time of year is having his everyday players get through camp healthy, notice positive signs from guys trying to bounce back and see some promise from young players.
Girardi believes he got a little bit of all of that and came away pleased with camp overall.
"I thought we did a lot of good things," he said prior to the Spring Training finale at George M. Steinbrenner Field. "We made a lot of tough decisions we had to make. Things kind of played out. Some guys had really good springs. Some young kids got an opportunity to really get their feet wet, which is always good, because at some point you think one of them might help you, and you want them to at least have an idea how it works a little bit. So I was pleased."
This was a spring in which Eric Chavez, Bartolo Colon and A.J. Burnett performed well. Young catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine showed they perhaps weren't quite ready yet. And starting center fielder Curtis Granderson, lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano and backup catcher Francisco Cervelli all got banged up.
But Girardi can take comfort that none of those injuries seem too serious at this point.
Asked what stuck out to him most in his club's six-week stint in Florida, Girardi referenced the positive results of Derek Jeter eliminating his stride, and Alex Rodriguez's hot spring, in which he batted .388 with six homers and drove in at least one run in 10 of his last 12 games.
"Alex's spring was unbelievable," he said. "I don't know any other way to describe it."
Chavez eager to produce results in backup role
TAMPA, Fla. -- At some point, of course, Eric Chavez would like to be an everyday player again.
"Yeah, there's no doubt about it," Chavez said. "But I'm not even looking past today."
On that day -- a Tuesday, and also the Yankees' Grapefruit League finale against the Tigers at George M. Steinbrenner Field -- a crowd of reporters stood by Chavez's locker, because the previous day, Yankees manager Joe Girardi announced Chavez would be making the big league roster as a backup corner infielder and lefty pinch-hitter.
The decision seemed more like a formality at that point, considering Chavez was brought in for that role and has hit well this spring, going into the finale with a .405 batting average in 42 Grapefruit League at-bats.
It's only spring, and that tends to yield added optimism, but regarding his approach at the plate, Chavez said: "I haven't swung a bat this well and felt that comfortable with my swing, ever."
Chavez has shortened up his swing in hopes of becoming more consistent at the plate. This spring, the 33-year-old believes that tweak has been key, even though at first he was worried he'd lose a significant amount of pop.
"It's turned out to be quite the opposite," he said. "I still feel like I have my strength at the plate, so I haven't lost anything, really. I've just gained a shorter swing and I'm seeing the ball better. It's been a world of difference for me."
So is his health, at least up until now. Chavez, once considered one of the game's best third basemen, hasn't played a full season since 2006 due to a laundry list of injuries -- back, shoulders and neck -- but is pain-free at this point.
Chavez feels his current role suits him well, no matter what the future holds.
"The situation is perfect for me, to be honest with you," Chavez said. "If I can't stay healthy in the role I'm going to be doing, it's going to be tough for me to do it anywhere else. Obviously, it's going to be limited. Whatever they ask me to do, I'll be ready to do it. I'm really just going to enjoy being in a Yankee uniform. In any uniform, for that matter."
Yankees lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano (soreness behind his left shoulder) will stay away from throwing for the next 10 days. Manager Joe Girardi said it will be at least three weeks until he gets on the mound. Barring a trade, either right-hander Luis Ayala or left-hander Steve Garrison will take the final spot in the Yankees' bullpen. A resolution will come Wednesday. ... Left-hander Manny Banuelos was given the James P. Dawson Award, given annually to "the outstanding rookie in Yankees Spring Training," as the team describes it. Banuelos, 20, posted a 2.13 ERA in 12 2/3 innings. ... Backup catcher Francisco Cervelli (left foot) took off his walking boot on Tuesday, but then put it on to play catch. "My guess is he still has to have another MRI, and I think once that is clear, I don't think it would take him that long [to get back]," Girardi said. "I don't think it's out of the question to have him May 1."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.