Results tagged ‘ Brett Gardner ’

Red Sox vs. Yankees: Day Blog

blog_032509.jpgWe’re back at George M. Steinbrenner Field prepping for tonight’s game with the Red Sox. If possible, there is a big-game feel around the park, even though it’s only Spring Training. YES’ cameras are setting up for tonight’s broadcast and there are already people scalping tickets, as the game is sold out.

The big news of the day is that Derek Jeter has rejoined the team after Team USA fell to Korea in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic.

Here’s tonight’s Yankees lineup:

Johnny Damon LF
Derek Jeter SS
Mark Teixeira 1B
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Xavier Nady RF
Cody Ransom 3B
Brett Gardner CF

Pitching: A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, Edwar Ramirez and Dave Robertson.

Many of the writers in the clubhouse are speculating that this will be the Opening Day lineup, which means Gardner will win the CF job. This obviously remains to be seen, but that’s what people are guessing right now.

2:45 p.m.
jeterarrives.jpgShortly before 2:30, Derek Jeter arrived to the Yankees clubhouse for the first time since leaving for the World Baseball Classic. He greeted A.J. Burnett before heading inside to get changed. Shortly after, nearly every writer in the world converged on Jeter at his locker. The Yankees captain said he feels good physically despite missing much of camp and is excited about getting into the daily routine again.

Editor’s note: Sorry for the paparazzi-style photograph. Jeter was so excited to get into the clubhouse that there wasn’t time to get a “real” camera out.

2:52 p.m.
Jeter tells reporters he was obviously disappointed that Team USA got knocked out, but was happy he got an opportunity to get to know the players he played against for years. When asked what Americans can learn from the Japanese style of play, he joked that he would like to learn how to run down to first before actually hitting the ball.

4:09 p.m.
Joe Auriemma just spoke with Ray Negron about doing a feature with him this Friday. For those who don’t know, Negron is the author of a new book, One Last Time: Good-Bye to Yankee Stadium and asked us to interview Richard Gere about the book as well. Gere will be voicing the audio version of the book. Check back here Friday for the interview.

reggie_150.jpg4:25 p.m.
Reggie Jackson sends his best wishes to Whitey Ford, who will be celebrating his 80th birthday this year. Look for the video on the Yes Network later this season.

pauljeterbp032409.JPG4:35 p.m.
After taking his hacks during BP, Jeter continues to get reacquainted with those in the Yankees organization, including YES’ Paul O’Neill.

Its clear that this season’s squad is much more relaxed than the ’08 team at the same time last spring. Seems like Swisher is the ring leader, joking with each player as they swing. He gives each player “two minutes” for hooking… Hooking their ball foul, that is.


4:52
p.m.

Girardi met with the media in the Yankees dugout. The manager plans on having the CF job ironed out by Sunday or Monday. He thinks both Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner had really good springs and that he is happy with both.

Regarding talking to Nick Swisher about Xavier Nady being his right fielder, Girardi said he was pleased to see that Swisher was still the same fun-loving guy after the news broke. The manager compared Swisher’s limited playing time to when he played for the Yankees and shared at-bats with Jorge Posada. According to Girardi, sometimes you have to give up a little to get to your ultimate goal of a World Series championship.

lilyank.jpg6:50 p.m.
As the fans ready themselves for the start of tonight’s game, many enjoy a little carnival-style pitch-speed game. This little Yankee packs a 40 mph heater. He’s a lefty, too. Perhaps we’re looking at a future major leaguer.

7:03 p.m.
We’re moments away from first pitch. Tune in to YES, as Michael Kay and Paul O’Neill bring you all the action. Then keep it tuned to YES after the game for the Spring Training special, featuring the highly-anticipated Alex Rodriguez interview.

7:09 p.m.
National Anthem, followed by a military flyover. We’re told it was quite emotional. We couldn’t see it from the press box, though.

7:47 p.m.
Tonight’s attendance: 11,113. The largest crowd to ever see a game at Steinbrenner Field.

Tuesday tidings

stadium_450.jpgBy Jon Lane
It’s a wonderful spring day here in the Big Apple. Walking down Eighth Avenue I was greeted with a lovely wind chill that made the real-feel temperature a wholesome 21 degrees. This is the time of year when Mother Nature experiences a few too many Happy Hours.

Anyway, thanks to everyone who joined in on both Chris Shearn’s and Team Tampa’s live commentaries from sunny Florida. The crew has produced a plethora of exclusive interviews and features for your viewing pleasure as everyone gets geared up for the 2009 season. In fact, individual game tickets went on sale on line this morning and will be available and the Yankee Stadium Ticket Office and all Ticketmaster locations starting tomorrow. From what I hear, the new Yankee Stadium is a phenomenal facility, so be sure to be a part of it. Next week, I’ll be getting my first look around and I can’t wait!

Some other random thoughts for a Tuesday:

It’s Red Sox vs. Yankees airing on the YES Network tonight at 7. Afterwords, stay tuned for the premiere of “Yankees 2009: Pride, Power & Pinstripes,” featuring Michael Kay’s exclusive interview with Alex Rodriguez. The New York Daily News grabbed excerpts of the conversation, taped prior to his hip surgery, where A-Rod said he doesn’t want the names of the other 103 players tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs released.

“Well this is really about my mistake,” Rodriguez said. “You know, many nights I fell asleep thinking about who I can blame, and this guy, or that guy. And when I woke up I kept coming back to the same person – it’s me. I mean, there’s no one to blame. I hope those 103 names never come out.”

Kay also asked A-Rod if he’s worried that people may not like him:

“Well, I’ve given up on that!” Rodriguez said. “I’ve given up on that; it’s just the way it is. I mean, look, I feel like right now, that not too many people like me, so I’ve given up on that. As long as my teammates like me, and they respect me, and my two daughters love their daddy, I’m going to go out and do the very best I can. Look, I really screwed up, and for that I’m sorry. I’m just happy to be playing baseball again.”

I’ve written and said this over and over: If A-Rod does what he’s done his entire career, that’s all people will care about. Play the game — and play the game to win.

Because Brian Bruney’s spring ERA is 7.42, Joe Girardi said the Yankees need to find a way to get him going. Don’t get this confused with the manager putting Bruney on notice. He’s still going into the regular season as the eighth-inning man, so please don’t start with the Joba to the bullpen stuff. The operative word in my first sentence is “spring.”

swishnady_250.jpgXavier Nady was named the Yankees’ starting right fielder. This was the featured story in the papers yesterday because quite simply it was the news of the day. In actuality it’s much ado about nothing.

Nick Swisher will get his share of playing time and will thrive when called upon. Yes he was upset and disappointed, but who wouldn’t be? I wouldn’t know what to do with a player who accepts the fact that he won’t play every day. Swisher has a new lease on his professional life and Mark Texieria’s signing failed to dim his bright outgoing personality. He’ll handle this too.

Funny observation from Pete Caldera: “Shelley Duncan to Xavier Nady, upon seeing a bunch of writers speaking to Nady this afternoon: ‘Are you on the same list as Alex?'”

Brett Gardner could grow into the Yankees’ version of Dustin Pedroia, writes Mike Lupica. It’s highly unlikely Gardner will become the AL’s Most Valuable Player, but like Pedroia, Gardner’s small package is saturated with grit, heart and desire. Said Girardi in the story: “There’s no size chart in baseball.”

Derek Jeter looked his age during the World Baseball Classic, writes Jack Curry. Jeter batted an uneventful .276 with no homers, RBIs or stolen bases in eight games for Team USA and faced more questions about his defensive shortcomings. I’m choosing not to worry about it until 2011, but Jeter is 34 years old and if his range is determined to be shot, it’s the outfield, a part-time role or (gasp) farewell to an icon.

Robin Yount was 29 years old when shoulder surgery ended his career as a short stop. He moved to center field to reduce the pressure on his throwing arm and proceeded to bat above .300 four straight years and win an MVP in 1989. The difference here though is Jeter’s arm is fine, so will this perception about his range suddenly improve or disappear when he’s in the outfield? Let’s get there first.

Tracking the Yankees in Fort Myers

By Jon Lane
Well, I’m not IN Fort Myers, but I am following Phil Hughes and those who made the long trip via the airwaves. At Yankees home base in Tampa, Chris Shearn and Joe Auriemma are working hard to provide the latest news and special features. Stay logged on to the new-look YESNetwork.com throughout the day and weekend for exclusive updates and interviews.

Hughes is eager to bounce back from his first rough start of the spring last Saturday in Bradenton, Fla. He may be a victim of a numbers game in the rotation, but he’s had an impressive Grapefruit season and will only benefit from extended action at Triple-A as a starter. Even if you don’t see him up north until at least September, is that such a bad thing? That would mean the starting five will have remained healthy and Hughes will benefit even more from the experience. In June he turns a mere 23 years old, so there’s plenty of time and limitless upside.

Following Hughes against the Twins is Jason Johnson, Dave Robertson, Anthony Claggett, Kei Igawa. Remember that Johnson is batting eye cancer and Igawa has tossed 12 scoreless innings. That’s not a typo, folks.

Brett Gardner led off with a single against Glen Perkins before left fielder Delmon Young robbed Robinson Cano with a diving catch while fighting the wind. Gardner stole second base but Mark Teixiera grounded out and Hideki Matsui flew out to deep center to end the top of the first. I’ll have more updates as the game progresses.

1:22 p.m. Hughes shook off a one-out walk to Alexi Casilla to get Jason Kubel to ground into a double-play.

1:40 p.m. Three up and three down for Hughes, all on ground-ball outs. Give an assist to Teixiera on the third out. He scooped up a low throw to help retire Young. No score after two.

1:48 p.m. Gardner is 2-for-2. Kudos to Joe Girardi for not declaring a winner in the center field battle. Besides the fact that there are two weeks left in Spring Training, you want to keep Gardner and Melky Cabrera looking over their shoulders. Gardner has to hit consistently and Cabrera show he’s more than just a fourth outfielder.

1:59 p.m. Hughes held the Twins hitless until Mike Redmond’s one-out double. Nick Punto singled Redmond home, but Hughes recovered to retire Denard Span on a 3-3-6 double play.

2:24 p.m. Hughes is pulled with one out in the fifth. He must have reached his pitch count cap. Another good outing for the right-hander: one run on three hits with a walk and no strikeouts. Jason Johnson is in the game.

2:43 p.m. Teixeira blasted a solo shot in the sixth to tie the game, but the Twins have regained the lead at 2-1. Teixeira finished 1-for-3 and is batting .414.

3:13 p.m. Todd Linden’s solo homer ties the game 2-2 in the top of the eighth.

3:23 p.m. Yankees enter the bottom of the eighth leading 3-2 after a Francisco Cervelli sacrifice fly.

4:03 p.m. Yankees win 4-2, but not without some drama. Kei Igawa relieved David Robertson with one out in the ninth. He walked two Twins to load the bases and ran the count to 3-2 to Denard Span unil Span grounded into a game-ending double play. Igawa has now pitched 12 2/3 scoreless innings, but his location was terrible. In short, it was shades of the Igawa everybody knows.

The 411 from Steinbrenner Field

By Joe Auriemma

Joe Girardi spoke to the media and talked openly about the center-field job and who has the edge on winning it — Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera. Girardi seems to feel that both Gardner and Cabrera could split time at the position when the season begins. He likes how both players are very good defensively, and with the bolstered rotation, these two players would add a spark to the team.

It’s just been announced that Nick Swisher is day-to-day with a bruised lower left calf.

I’ll be blogging again in a little bit.

CC looking to deal aces at Joker Marchant

By Jon Lane
It’s the Big C on the mound today against the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. CC Sabathia pitched two scoreless innings in his Spring Training debut last Friday and is right on track for Opening Day April 6 in Baltimore.

From where I sit, Sabathia is already earning his big bucks by establishing himself as an ace with his work ethic and attitude. He’s gone out of his way to integrate himself with his new teammates and has been completely relaxed throughout camp. Yeah, Alex Rodriguez’s tribulations have had Sabathia flying under the radar, but the heat will intensify and Sabathia has shown throughout his career he can handle it.

If the Yankees do not skip Joba Chamberlain’s turn in the rotation, Sabathia will also start the home opener April 16 against his old friends from Cleveland.

Today’s lineup
Melky Cabrera CF
Johnny Damon LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Nick Swisher RF
Cody Ransom 3B
Angel Berroa 2B
Ramiro Pena SS
Kevin Cash C

Storylines: Alfredo Aceves, Brian Bruney, Jose Veras, Mark Melancon and Steven Jackson will follow Sabathia … Joe Girardi said on Tuesday that Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Phil Coke have the inside track for bullpen spots based on their performances last season. Ramirez threw batting practice this morning after shut down for two weeks with bursitis in his pitching shoulder. Preceding Ramirez was Mariano Rivera, who told reporters he will throw BP again on Saturday and then should be ready for a game … The Brett Gardner hit parade continued Tuesday night. The spark plug went 2-for-3 with an RBI and is batting .417 (10-for-24). Melky Cabrera, meanwhile, is batting .278 and needs to string together a few good games just to keep pace … Neither Xavier Nady (.211) nor Nick Swisher (.133) are distinguishing themselves in the battle for right field, but being that they’re veterans they’re afforded more slack … The Dominican Republic’s shocking elimination from the World Baseball Classic means Robinson Cano and Damaso Marte are expected back by Friday.

2:15 p.m. Rough day at the office for Sabathia, who was lifted with two out in the second. The Tigers bombed the left-hander for five runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings, including a two-run shot from Gary Sheffield.

3:48 p.m. Melky Cabrera went 0-for-3 with a walk, dropping his average to .238. It’s March 11 and there are a lot of spring games left to be played, but Brett Gardner is running away with the job of starting center fielder.

The 2 Live Stews

zone80.pngHere’s audio of my appearance on Sports Radio 790 in Atlanta, talking A-Rod, the WBC and CC Sabathia with The 2 Live Stews.
LISTEN

Tonight’s lineup vs. Reds (YES HD, 7 p.m.)
Brett Gardner CF
Johnny Damon LF
Xavier Nady RF
Hideki Matsui DH
Cody Ransom 3B
Jose Molina C
Juan Miranda 1B
Angel Berroa SS
Ramiro Pena 2B

Some random takes about the Yankees and around the league:

  • Maybe the idea of Brett Gardner as the Yankees’ everyday center fielder is not so crazy after all, writes John Harper. The Yankees’ Brett the Jet, is batting .381 (6-for-21) with a team-leading three home runs, four RBIs, six runs scored and two stolen bases in eight games. Conversely, Melky Cabrera is batting .278 with two homers and two runs scored. Of course, there remains a ton of time in Spring Training, and Gardner may easily flame out by April, but here and now he provides elements the Yankees need and Joe Girardi loves: hustle, guts and grit.
  • Anthony McCarron is following Francisco Cervelli’s ride with Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic, which knocked Canada out of the tournament and plays tonight in an elimination game.Cervelli received nice compliments from hitting coach Mike Piazza. Yet I still wonder why he chose to play in the tournament instead of trying to make a lasting impression on the Yankees. Jorge Posada’s shoulder issues won’t have closure until he proves he can resume the full responsibility of a starting catcher. Besides, he turns 38 in August and his contract runs out after the 2011 season. It’s never too early to start thinking about the future. It’s not Jose Molina and it may not be Jesus Montero. 
  • Incidentally, I’m enjoying the WBC. And I’m now a fan of Juan Carlos Sulbaran. Pitching for the Netherlands, the Reds’ 19-year-old Single-A prospect came on in the sixth and whiffed Ivan Rodriguez on three nasty pitches. Later, Sulbaran got Carlos Beltran to ground out with the bases loaded on a 3-2 pitch. It’s do or die for the upstart Dutch team tonight when they face a Dominican Republic group out for revenge, but win or lose, Sulbaran will be around for a long time. Years from now, a Reds rotation of Sulbaran, Johnny Cueto, Edison Volquez and Homer Bailey will be scary good.
  • Don’t look now, but Angel Berroa is 9-for-18 with two homers and five RBIs in eight games. Cody Ransom is 6-for-20 (.300) with an RBI in eight games. Berroa, though, has played all of one game at third base (in 2007) and has hit no higher than .270 since being named AL Rookie of the Year in 2003. Ransom’s the guy to play third in Alex Rodriguez’s absence. He’s more versatile and reliable for the long haul.

Monday musings

pettitte_250_030909.jpgBy Jon Lane
Andy Pettitte his spring debut this afternoon against the Blue Jays. Pettitte and the Yankees, as you know, were at a stalemate before compromising on a one-year deal worth $5.5 million with an additional $6.5 million in bonuses.

Not that Pettitte will rebound from a down season to win 20 games like Mike Mussina last year, but he will be better now that he’s healthy and free from the HGH admissions that weighed heavily on his mind.

Furthermore, having won in New York, Pettitte offers an invaluable intangible to CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and the Yankees’ young arms. His wisdom, experience and insight will become especially valuable late in the season and the take here is that Pettitte still have a few big games left in him.
 
Today’s lineups
Brett Gardner CF
Melky Cabrera LF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Nick Swisher RF
Jose Molina C
Angel Berroa 2B
Justin Leone 3B
Ramiro Pena SS

The center field derby
Brett Gardner: 6-for-18, 2 HRs, 5 R, 2 SB
Melky Cabrera: 4-for-15, 0 HRs, 2 R, 0 SB

Don’t look now
Phil Hughes’ Grapefruit line: 7.2 innings, 3 hits, 2 runs, 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, including three hitless innings on Sunday (two walks, four strikeouts).

Transactions
Andrew Brackman was optioned to Single-A Charleston. J.B. Cox, George Kontos and Kanekoa Texeira were reassigned to the Yankees’ Minor League camp.

Storylines
Alex Rodriguez is undergoing hip surgery this morning. Pete Caldera of The Bergen Record tracks the A-Rod stock market.

Cody Ransom is getting his share of press. This column by The Record‘s Ian O’Connor is an absolute must-read. This alone makes you want to root for Ransom.

Strictly in baseball terms, the Yankees can get back with Ransom at third base for a month or so. He’ll be that much more valuable to the team once Rodriguez returns.

A few updates from Peter Abraham:

Andy Pettitte’s line: 1 2/3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 31 pitches

Dan Giese gave up a solo home run to Russ Adams in the third.

Brett Gardner’s hot spring continues. Gardner went yard with a two-run shot (his third of the spring) to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the bottom half of the third. Melky Cabrera was hitless in two at-bats entering the fifth.

Gardner later reached first on a bunt single and was moved to third on Cabrera’s two-out base hit. However, Cabrera got caught between first and second and Gardner, breaking for home, was tagged out. Gardner is 2-for-3 with two RBIs and Cabrera finished 1-for-3 before he was replaced in left field by Austin Jackson.

The news was not so good for Ian Kennedy. The right-hander got tagged for five runs on five hits in two innings, including Travis Snider’s solo homer with one out in the sixth. 

An antidote to Old Man Winter

jeter_250_030409.jpgBy Jon Lane
“Oh I just love the first day of school don’t you?!”
Patty Simcox

“It’s the biggest thrill of my life.”
Betty Rizzo, reeking of sarcasm

Nothing like quoting Grease to get a late start on today’s blog. That sums up how I feel about the wonderful world of winter, especially after spending nearly three hours shoveling two feet of snow off my driveway. Anyone who loves what Mother Nature hammered the Northeast – and parts of Alabama and Georgia – with yesterday is Patty Simcox.

Today baseball casts a bright light on a day in which the high in New York City will reach 25 degrees, and that’s not including a lovely wind chill. The Yankees are back in Tampa, Fla., to host an exhibition affair against the World Baseball Classic’s United States team. Phil Hughes starts for the Yankees against Roy Oswalt, whose teammate will be Derek Jeter. For the first time in his career, Jeter is playing against the Yankees, batting second and playing shortstop for Team USA.

The YES Network airs this live at 1 p.m., so sit back and enjoy what should prove to be a unique game.

The lineups:

YANKEES
Johnny Damon LF
Brett Gardner CF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Xavier Nady RF
Cody Ransom 2B
Kevin Cash C
Angel Berroa SS
Justin Leone 3B

TEAM USA
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Derek Jeter SS
Chipper Jones DH
David Wright 3B
Adam Dunn RF
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ryan Braun LF
Brian McCann C
Curtis Granderson CF

1 p.m. Steven Goldman kicked off a hot debate over Jeter’s future with the Yankees once his contract expires at the end of the 2011 season. If you ask Goldman, the Yankees should not turn a blind eye to Father Time and re-sign him just because he’s Derek Jeter. If you ask Joe Auriemma, Derek Jeter should retire as a Yankee if he’s willing to make a few concessions.

What do you think?

1:19 p.m. Hughes allowed a leadoff single before getting Jeter to ground into a 4-4-3 double play. Jeter had asked to not be pitched inside, but Hughes apparently didn’t get the memo. Chipper Jones then grounded out to end the inning on a nice play by Cody Ransom.

1:29 p.m. Yankees take a 1-0 lead on Jorge Posada’s RBI single. Brett Gardner got it started with a one-out single and scored when Posada, batting left-handed, poked a blooper to left filed. The stats from these games will not count, but Posada (.625-1-3) and Gardner (.500-2-2, three runs scored) have been two of the Yankees’ best players to date.

1:35 p.m. Hughes looks terrific. He’s thrown two scoreless innings and in the second caught  David Wright and Adam Dunn looking at strike three with nasty breaking pitches.

1:49 p.m. Jeter gets revenge on Hughes with a two-out, two-run single to give Team USA a 2-1 lead in the third. That’s it for Hughes. The Yankees don’t want to extend him beyond the 42 pitches he threw in 2 2/3 innings. Hughes looked good and is still building arm strength, but his stamina and high pitch counts have been causes for concern. That’s why it’s a blessing in disguise he’ll likely begin the season at Triple-A. This kid will be an impact player and time is on his side.

2 p.m. Gardner is 2-for-2 and just swiped second base. It remains early in the spring but the Yankees have to be encouraged with the way Gardner is swinging the bat. Gardner’s meager offense is what’s kept him from getting to that next level. If he continues to have good at-bats and create havoc on the bases he’ll be the Yankees’ starting center fielder. Melky Cabrera may push him, and far and away he has the better arm, but Gardner doesn’t think twice about getting down and dirty, and would be more of a spark from the No. 9 spot in the lineup.

2:31 p.m. Gardner slaps a double down the left field line and is 3-for-3. Cabrera isn’t quaking in his cleats, however. He had one down year and remains an asset when his head is in the game. He’s also out of options, which will make for an interesting decision if Joe Girardi does in fact deem Gardner his starter.

2:48 p.m. Phil Coke’s line: 2.1 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 0 walks 2 strikeouts. I love the potential of the bullpen’s underbelly with Coke and Damaso Marte serving as the left-handers.

3:07 p.m. Cody Ransom is 2-for-3 with an RBI. Michael Kay and John Flaherty is talking up Ransom as the ideal utility infielder who’d be content being a bench player and ready to play at a moment’s notice. Certainly not an everyday player, but you worry about that only in the event the Yankees lose one of their starters. Ransom looked good in spurts last season and would fit the role player bill nicely from where I sit.

3:35 p.m. Cabrera entered the game for Gardner and struck out looking in his first at-bat. It’s 6-4, Team USA at the end of seven.

4:20 p.m. Yankees lose 6-5. Nice at-bat by Cabrera in the bottom of the ninth. He battled Matt Lindstrom to a full count before slapping base hit to put runners on the corners with nobody out and stealing a base to put himself in scoring position.

Flaherty said it best when he noted that such at-bats is a confidence builder. Judging by the recent performances of Gardner and Cabrera, this competition will go down to Spring Training’s final week, or perhaps by the time the Yankees open their new home April 3 and 4 with two exhibition games against the Cubs.

Yanks schlep to Fort Myers

kennedy_250_022707.jpgBy Jon Lane
The Yankees left at 8 this morning for the 2 1/2-hour trek to Fort Myers for a game against the Minnesota Twins. Ian Kennedy starts for New York against Scott Baker.

The lineup:
Brett Gardner CF
Cody Ransom 2B
Nick Swisher 1B
Jorge Posada DH
Xavier Nady RF
Melky Cabrera LF
Angel Berroa SS
Justin Leone 3B
Francisco Cervelli C

Note that Nady, Swisher, Cabrera and Gardner all made the trip. Each are competing for playing time in the outfield, while Swisher starts at first base to get some at-bats. Normally, veterans like Posada don’t make these types of trips, but 1) yesterday was his first game action since last July 19 and 2) teams are required to send at least one of their big names on the road.

The Cabrera-Gardner competition will get press throughout the spring, but Nady-Swisher is an intriguing storyline. Speculation over whether either will be traded has died down for the moment. The hope here is that both remain on the roster. Both offer depth, and Swisher’s personality has been refreshing and contagious to a group that needs positive vibes given the A-Rod melodrama and the annual World Series or bust expectations.

You can track today’s game here. I’ll be listening to the Twins’ radio feed and will check in with updates from time to time.

1:24 p.m.: Already 2-0 Yankees and kick-started by Brett Gardner, who led off with a single, stole second and scored on Cody Ransom’s single (Ransom came home with the second run on a throwing error). It’s only Game 3, but you think Gardner is hungry to prove a point?

Ian Kennedy then retires the Twins in order.

1:32 p.m. Justin Leone’s one-out homer puts the Yankees ahead 3-0. It would have been four if not for Angel Berroa’s failed attempt to turn a leadoff single into a double.

1:35 p.m. Gardner, your 2009 Opening Day center fielder, is 2-for-2 with a single and a double.

2:01 p.m. The Yankees have eight hits in 2 1/2 innings, but left the bases loaded without scoring a run. Sound familiar?

Cabrera popped up with runners on second and third and one out. Remember that he’s out of options, so if Gardner wins the CF competition, the Yankees will either have to find a place for Cabrera or risk losing him should he not clear waivers.

2:04 p.m. Kennedy’s line: 2 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts. He left a runner stranded at third to end the second.

2:17 p.m. Gardner drew a one-out walk, the third time he’s reached base. Minutes later he swiped second base. The Twins announcers said he has a little element of Lenny Dykstra, as in when he plays, you notice him.

2:23 p.m. Swisher flies out to end the threat. Still 3-0, Yankees

2:48 p.m. Cabrera grounded out to end the top of the fifth. He’s 0-for-3. Jorge Posada left the game after going 2-for-3. He is 4-for-5 in two games. 3-1, Yankees.

3:02 p.m. Austin Jackson pinch-hit for Gardner, who is batting .429 (3-for-7) with a homer and two stolen bases in three spring games.

3:20 p.m. Competition report: Cabrera finished hitless in three at-bats and is 0-for-5 in two games. Swisher went 2-for-3 and Nady 1-for-3.

4:17 p.m. Yankees lose 5-4 to fall to 2-1 on the Grapefruit Season. The Twins snuffed a late rally in the ninth.

Gardner stakes claim on CF

gardner_250_022609.jpgBy 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.