Granderson still working at hitting lefties

New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson (14)

New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson (14) looks back after scoring a run against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. (July 17, 2010) (Credit: Christopher Pasatieri)

The knock against Curtis Granderson when he came to the Yankees was that he couldn't hit lefties. Then he came to the Yankees and didn't hit lefties. Simple enough, right? Cue Joe Girardi.

"We've been pretty pleased with Granderson's at-bats against lefthanders," Girardi said before last night's game against Kansas City. "I know the numbers are saying he's hitting .220, but I think he's hit harder than .220 against lefthanded pitching. I really do, from what I've seen."

In the same breath, however, Girardi acknowledged that eventually a .220 average might not be enough.

"Those are things we talk about internally," he said. "And there's always going to be speculation about where we're going to try to improve our club. If we do, we do. And if we don't, we don't."

Perhaps Girardi should listen to his gut, as there are signs that Granderson might not be quite as bad as his batting average screams.

Consider this: Despite the .239 overall average Granderson brought into last night, he has the highest line-drive percentage of his career (25.1) and actually is hitting more line drives against lefties than righties.

He's also hitting well over .300 when he drives the ball to centerfield and rightfield against all pitchers. It's only the 39 at-bats in which he's hit the ball to leftfield that he's struggled - 70 percent fly balls and pop-ups and a .179 batting average.

The lefthanded-hitting Granderson said he feels comfortable against lefthanders and that it's just a matter of waiting for the hits to fall in.

"You've got to continue to stay positive and try to find some grass out there," he said. "We've just got to get the ball to touch the ground a couple times and that average will take care of itself."

Granderson struck out swinging in his first at-bat against lefty Bruce Chen but "found some grass" with a line-drive single to left-center on an 0-and-2 pitch in the fourth. He grounded out in the fifth against Chen.

Granderson said the time it took him to acclimate to a new club and a new city was mostly over and done with during spring training, and that his numbers this year have nothing to do with being a first-time Yankee.

"When we came to New York, [there was some acclimating] a little bit here and there, but nothing too crazy because we jump right into the fire and get things going and you don't have much time to go ahead and start thinking of things," he said. "You start playing baseball, and you start winning some and losing some and things just get back to normal."

With Kimberley A. Martin

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