Via the AP -
Brett Gardner has won the Yankees’ starting center field job.
New York manager Joe Girardi announced Sunday that Gardner beat out Melky Cabrera this spring for the starting spot on opening day.
“Both of them played great,” Girardi said after the Yankees beat Pittsburgh 9-8. “Gardie finished up strong and had a great camp. Right now I think Gardie has a little bit of the edge. He brings a little more speed to the lineup.” The speedy Gardner had a .228 batting average over 42 games in 2008, but was successful on 13 of 14 stolen-base attempts. He is hitting .385 with five stolen bases in 22 spring training games.
The Yankees plan to have Cabrera on the regular-season roster in a backup role.
“Melky had a tough year last year, but came into camp, was ready to go and played very well,” Girardi said. “Melky is going to have a lot of important things to do for us. He’s a switch-hitter, can put him anywhere in the outfield. He can run.”
So, does three years count as a fast track?
And, having Melky Cabrera on the bench is not terrible. He will probably spell Gardner against tough lefties and be a defensive caddy for Xaiver Nady. He can also pinch-run for Jose Molina when needed. These are all tasks that Leche can handle.
What should Yankees fans expect from Gardner this year? Great speed, a decent glove in center, a willingness to work the count, and a hard-nose attitude. Nuthin’ wrong with any of ‘dat…