The first of the reinforcements has arrived.
Curtis Granderson was activated by the Yankees – just in time to face Mariners ace Felix Hernandez at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night. Vidal Nuno, who started Game 2 of Monday’s doubleheader against Cleveland, was optioned to the minors in a related move.
Granderson is playing left field and batting cleanup. Vernon Wells is the odd man out of the outfield on Tuesday, though he's in the lineup at designated hitter with Travis Hafner sitting.
Granderson hadn’t played in the majors this season after suffering a broken right forearm when he was hit by a pitch during the first game of spring training. In five rehab games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Granderson was 8-for-20 (.400) with a home run and three RBIs.
After exclusively playing centerfield during his first three years as a Yankee, it looks like Granderson will now largely assume a corner outfield spot. Though manager Joe Girardi said Granderson would remain in center when the injury initially occurred -- despite a plan to experiment with Granderson in left and Brett Gardner in center during spring training -- Granderson has played two rehab games in left, two in right and one at DH. None in center. In Granderson's absence, Gardner has contributed strong defensive play in center.
Still, Girardi will have to juggle his returning star with the three players who saw regular time during his injury: Gardner, Wells and Ichiro Suzuki. Wells is experiencing a career resurgence, hitting .299 with nine home runs, while Gardner is playing a premium defensive position with excellence, batting atop the lineup and contributing a .711 on-base plus slugging percentage. Suzuki is struggling the most, posting just a .650 OPS.
The Yankees still have Kevin Youkilis, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Francisco Cervelli, Ivan Nova, Joba Chamberlain, Michael Pineda, Cesar Cabral and Eduardo Nunez on the disabled list.