Yanks’ Brett Gardner “more comfortable” in center field
Here are the quick hits as the Yankees prepare to take on the Athletics this evening at o.Co Coliseum. Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi (4-1, 4.27) will be on the mound for New York and right-hander Jesse Hahn goes for Oakland. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. ET.
With Ramon Flores in left field making his Major League debut, Brett Gardner gets a chance to return to his natural center field position. Gardner will play there when Flores is in the lineup, but Chris Young could also see reps in center while the Yankees wait for Jacoby Ellsbury to come back.
“I feel comfortable in center,” Gardner said. “I feel more comfortable there than I do in left field. I’ve obviously played left field every day and I’m becoming more comfortable over there, but I feel perfectly normal going back to center field. It doesn’t feel weird or like I’m playing out of position. I feel good.”
Gardner said that he didn’t give much thought to the defensive alignment after Slade Heathcott‘s injury.
“However they want to put us out there — whether C.Y. is playing or Flo, Slade, me, Jacoby, whoever, it doesn’t matter to me. Left field, center field, I feel comfortable,” Gardner said.
As for Ellsbury, there is no significant update to offer. He is back in New York and has been performing exercises in the Yanks’ swimming pool, but has not resumed baseball activities.
Jose Pirela is spelling Stephen Drew at second base tonight, and while Girardi said that he has not made any decisions about playing time beyond this game, Pirela might be making a better case for duty if he wasn’t hitting .200 (6-for-30). Girardi said that the sparse playing time may be an issue.
“It’s difficult for young players,” Girardi said. “That’s why a lot of times you see utility guys as older players that have experience because they’re just more familiar with it. You look at his at-bats and see how his at-bats are, and how he looks in the field and you make a judgment.”
Rehabbing right-hander Chris Martin threw one inning tonight for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and could rejoin the Yankees by the end of the week. The Yanks will also have to make a move on Wednesday to accommodate Masahiro Tanaka, and they have a pair of struggling right-handed relievers in David Carpenter and Esmil Rogers.
“We need a right-hander to step up for us to help Dellin (Betances) out in those situations when we don’t have him,” Girardi said. “Even to bridge the gap to those two guys, it’s important that someone steps up.”
Girardi said that he doesn’t mind keeping four left-handed relievers in Andrew Miller, Chasen Shreve, Jacob Lindgren and Justin Wilson.
“I haven’t really found it to be a problem,” Girardi said. “It’s not very often that you have that, but sometimes you face a club with a lot of left-handers and it can be to your advantage. (The A’s) have got plenty of left-handers in their lineup. Seattle’s got plenty of left-handers.”
Heathcott was placed on the disabled list today and is flying back to New York to be seen by team physician Dr. Christopher Ahmad. He is expected to miss more than 15 days and perhaps as much as a month.