I had a chance to chat with Curtis Granderson for a story that should be posted this afternoon on MLB.com, as the Yankees outfielder prepares to head to New Zealand as a Major League Baseball ambassador, his fourth such trip in helping the game grow overseas.
With Spring Training just a few weeks away, Granderson is also ready for baseball to begin in Tampa, Fla. He plans to head down shortly after the Feb. 6 Super Bowl and is excited for his second season with the Yankees after experiencing some mixed results in 2010.
“I look at the good and the bad,” Granderson said. “As a team, we played well, and for myself individually there are a couple of things that I want to do better. There are things that you take with it that you’re happy with, so it’s kind of a mix. Of course the team is the most important, and I would have loved to continue playing. I’m excited for the 2011 season.”
Granderson’s season seemed to turn around in August, when he and hitting coach Kevin Long dissected his swing in the batting cages at Rangers Ballpark and cut out some unnecessary parts. Though Granderson won’t get a chance to see Long before Spring Training begins, he plans to work a lot in February and March to keep it moving in the right direction.
“At the end of it, we just simplified everything,” Granderson said. “The changes actually weren’t that drastic; we just cut out things. The good thing about it is hopefully when I begin this offseason I’m able to easily pick back up what we’d been doing once I get down to Florida.”
While many would have liked to see the Yankees make a few more winter splashes, especially on the starting pitching front, Granderson said that he thinks the team the Yankees are bringing into camp looks “great” on paper.
“You see the free agents that were available this offseason, and of course all 30 teams would have wanted a lot of those guys,” Granderson said. “And of course you can’t get everybody. We had a great team last year, and there’s still a couple of question marks, like if Andy Pettitte is going to come back. But with the core that we have right now, I’m very happy and positive and excited about what we’ve got.”
The Red Sox, most would agree, were one of the big winter winners. Granderson sees the movement in the American League East as a challenge, but one the Yankees can handle.
“The big thing for [Boston] is that they brought big pieces over,” Granderson said. “Who wouldn’t want Carl Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez? At the same time, it’ll be a little adjustment period for them as well and I think a couple of pieces will have to move. They’re going to be just as excited.
“In our division, you saw teams like Baltimore make great moves. I think they’re probably one of the most underrated teams this offseason. It’ll be interesting to see what they do. Tampa Bay got a lot of talk with the guys that aren’t coming back, but again, it’s a completely different team than last year. Those question marks are always a threat.”