Raul Ibañez was prepared for extra duty with Yankees
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Raul Ibañez paid due respect to Brett Gardner before pointing out the obvious.
Yes, losing the leftfielder for the season hurts but it's not as if the Yankees suddenly have to get used to it.
The reality is they've been used to it for some time.
"We've kind of been doing this pretty much the whole year, so it's not an adjustment for [Andruw Jones] or myself, or Dewayne [Wise] or anybody," Ibañez said of playing without Gardner, who appeared in just nine games before landing on the DL April 18.
Ibañez will continue to get the majority of playing time in left, though he did not start Friday night. The 40-year-old, with 42 starts in left, came into Friday hitting .243 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs.
The original plan when the Yankees signed Ibañez in the offseason was to have him be the team's primary designated hitter against righthanders. The Yankees also were looking at, among others, fan favorites Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, but the organization thought Ibañez would be a better option in the field.
Regardless of his expected role, Ibañez said that he prepared as if he would be an everyday player.
"If I was told that I was going to DH this winter and prepared to DH, then that would mean I'm slacking on my offseason conditioning," he said. "I think every offseason, especially the older you get, you don't train the same. You actually step up your training. You prepare to go out there and play all the time. I don't understand how not to do something all out, as most players don't. If you don't do that, then you're cheating yourself."
The 35-year-old Jones, whose start in left Friday was his 22nd of the year, had offseason knee surgery, but said to this point, he hasn't experienced any issues.
"I feel good," he said. "Sore here and there, but everyone's sore."
Told that 35 isn't all that old, anyway, Jones smiled.
"Thirty-five with a lot of miles," he said.
Jones came into Friday hitting .239 with 12 homers and 26 RBIs. Wise, who provides at least some of the speed element Gardner did, has started nine games in left, as has utility man Jayson Nix.
"We have a lot of guys on the bench that can go out and get that job done," Jones said. "We were looking forward to [Gardner] coming back and give us that boost with his speed and good defense. Right now, everybody needs to go out there and continue to do what we've been doing."
Which, Joe Girardi pointed out, has been winning. The Yankees entered Friday with the best record (57-35) in the majors, a record accrued almost totally without Gardner.
"He's a guy that helps us a lot but we've managed to amass this record without him for most of the year and we're going to have to do it," Girardi said. "I wish he was coming back and I wish we had his speed element coming back, but we're not going to have it, so we'll have to figure out how to do it without him."
Another outing for Joba. RHP Joba Chamberlain had his fourth rehab outing Friday night, starting for high Class A Tampa in Bradenton. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- and two hits in two innings. He walked one and struck out one in throwing 32 pitches, 19 for strikes. Chamberlain's previous three starts came for the GCL Yankees and the 26-year-old is still on pace to return the first week of August, though general manager Brian Cashman hasn't ruled out Chamberlain coming back before that.