Girardi: Bunting Bombers? Not happening

ST. PETERSBURG – The Yankees have spent most of this season flexing their muscles and proudly stating that they are a team built around the home run. That doesn’t figure to change anytime soon.

Manager Joe Girardi rejected the idea, raised by hitting coach Kevin Long after Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Rays, that the Yankees should begin trying to bunt more and play small ball to cure their offensive woes.

“That’s not really our approach,” Girardi said. “We’re not the Bronx Bunters and we really never have been. The one thing you can concentrate on is really good at-bats and making sure you grind out your at-bats.

“If you have to move a runner over, make sure you hit the ball to the other side or pull it or try to drive the ball. Take the extra base when you can. We’re not going to change our philosophy.”

Long said that he believed the Yankees could benefit from moving runners over; for example, in the third inning of Tuesday’s game, Derek Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson was hit by a pitch.

Long suggested that Nick Swisher could have bunted the runners over; instead, Swisher struck out and Robinson Cano hit into an inning-ending double play.

“At this point, when you’re not scoring runs, you’ve got to try something,” Long said. “We’ll talk about it. Maybe it goes up to a point right now where it’s like 80 percent we’re bunting [in those situations].

“And then it goes down to maybe 50 percent because we’re starting to swing the bats better. And if we struggle again, those are the times to do those things. There are some things we can do besides sit around and wait for a big home run.”

Girardi essentially dismissed the idea, saying that the Yankees’ roster is not constructed that way and that, with a club full of sluggers, “You can’t ask guys to do something they’re not accustomed to doing.” New York has a Major League-high 10 players on their roster with at least 10 homers this year.

“If you have a club that has a lot of speed and you have a lot of hit-and-run candidates, you might [bunt],” Girardi said. “That’s not something that we’re really built on. I’m not going to ask our guys to change who they are. You can’t do that. I can’t make our guys world-class sprinters all of a sudden. That’s not going to happen. We need to hit and we know that.”

Girardi said that he and Long are on the same page, and do not have a difference of opinion on the bunting issue. Girardi pointed out that he has put on the bunt sign for some players, like Ichiro Suzuki, with mixed results.

“There are times that I do play for one run,” Girardi said. “You’ve seen us bunt before. But I’m not going to put Robbie Cano up there with a runner on second and nobody out and say, ‘Robbie, put down a bunt.’ It just doesn’t make sense.”

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