CLEARWATER, Fla. - Not wanting to cross the bridge of dropping Derek Jeter from the two-hole last season kept the Yankees from a preferred Jacoby Ellsbury/Brett Gardner 1-2 punch at the top of their lineup.
No such obstacle exists this season and the pair of lefthanded hitters led off Tuesday's spring training opener, which finished tied at 5 tie against the Phillies.
"I just kind of like the combination of those two guys together," Joe Girardi said before the game. "We'll take a look at it a lot this spring because we try to keep the outfielders together a lot early on and the infielders together, and just to see how it works."
Ellsbury and Gardner, who combined to go 0-for-6 Tuesday, were the Yankees' most consistent offensive performers a season ago. Ellsbury hit .271 with a .328 on-base percentage with 16 homers and 70 RBIs and Gardner hit .256 with a .327 OBP with 17 homers and 58 RBIs. Gardner hit primarily leadoff and Ellsbury batted mostly third (in 93 games) because of injuries to the middle of the order.
Both said where they hit doesn't matter to them, though they like the thought of hitting back-to-back at the top.
"I think it will be fun to have speed at the top of the lineup and do a lot of different things and score a lot of different ways," Ellsbury said.
Said Gardner: "I think we can do some damage as long as we both stay healthy and do our job."