Gardner stakes claim on CF
By Glenn Giangrande
While I sit here and watch Phil Hughes take his first steps towards erasing his 2008 season, I’m still shocked by what I saw in the box score from Wednesday’s Spring Training opener.
Brett Gardner went deep?
Sure, it doesn’t have the media relevance that A-Rod’s two-run jack had, but boy oh boy, what a nice way to start the official slate for Gardner, who I fully expect to win the job in center field over Melky Cabrera. He’s not going to be hitting many homers, I know, but I don’t think people who view CF as a position battle will get their money’s worth.
In my eyes, Gardner is the clear cut favorite, and if he wasn’t so young and inexperienced, he might’ve been given the job in college, although I think we’d all agree in saying that Joe Girardi is the probably the kind of manager who likes to foster competition when possible. The facts cannot be ignored though. Gardner has blazing speed in the outfield, and while his arm is not at the level of Melky’s, you don’t need to throw the ball in if you can run it down!
When he doesn’t start, Gardner can wreak havoc in the late innings as a pinch runner, but I believe that the temptation to have that dimension in the lineup on a regular basis is far too tempting for Girardi.