Pretty mellow mood here at the Stadium, as we're roughly 47 minutes away from first pitch. Alex Rodriguez will make his return to third base, after performing well enough in pre-game drills to convince Joe Girardi he's ready. That puts Jorge Posada at DH and Francisco Cervelli behind the plate.
Interestingly, Brett Gardner is starting at centerfield against Mets Hisanori Takahashi, with Chad Huffman in leftfield and Curtis Granderson on the bench. Gardner has a .755 OPS against lefties this season, with a more than respectable .365 OBP. Granderson? A .553 OPS, with a brutal .232 OPS. Granderson has been decent overall, but his splits against lefties continue to create concern.
This afternoon, I saw Granderson working in the cage with hitting coach Kevin Long who throws lefty. It was a simple drill: Long was kneeling, underhanding an imaginary ball with his left-handed motion, and Granderson was simply watching the imaginary pitches.
Speaking of concern, spoke with another team's scout here who opined, "The Yankees are in trouble. Posada can't catch anymore, and what do they do if Cervelli gets hurt? Montero isn't ready.Romine doesn't hit. Teixeira is pull happy and isn't making the proper adjustments. He's trying to hit every ball out here (at Yankee Stadium). Who knows what's going to happen with A-Rod? "
The scout added that he liked Gardner better than Granderson - and Austin Jackson better than Granderson, to boot - and shared everyone else's concerns about A.J. Burnett's consistency issues. He spoke highly of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Javier Vazquez, as well as Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher.
Austin Romine is hitting some, as you can see. I'm not endorsing everything the scout says, but I thought it was interesting enough to share.
--Pretty quiet with the Mets. I am curious to see how Hisanori Takahashi, a pitcher who seems to benefit his mystery status as a Japanese import, does in his second start against the Yankees.
Jose Reyes' defense at shortstop was a topic of discussion during Jerry Manuel's pre-game session with the media. If you look at his UZR, he generally has come off well.
This year, as Manuel noted, even when Reyes couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag, he was still fielding well, providing value. And that wasn't always the case, the manager said: "If Jose got a hit in his first at-bat (in past years), we'd say, 'We'll have a good shortstop tonight.'"
--Good column by Jon Heyman about the Orioles' manager situation. Of the veteran managers Baltimore is considering, assuming Bobby Valentine doesn't want the job - that's what it sounds like - I'd go with Buck Showalter. The O's desperately need some order, structure and personality, and that's what Showalter is all about.
I found this story thanks to Twitter.