TAMPA, Fla. — A sore right wrist bothered Brett Gardner much of last season. A lingering bone bruise in his left wrist is hampering him to start this one.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Thursday morning that Gardner suffered the bone bruise in the wild-card game in October. In the second inning, while playing centerfield, the lefthanded Gardner hit his throwing hand against the right-centerfield wall as he made a running catch to rob Evan Gattis of an extra-base hit.
Gardner, who did not take batting practice all offseason, did so in the cage Thursday, taking 25 swings off a tee and then 25 on tosses. “We’ve got some time to work with right now,” he said. “I feel good.”
Gardner remains “a little bit concerned” about the wrist but doesn’t think Opening Day is in jeopardy. He also said there’s been significant improvement. “I feel a lot better where I’m at today versus where I was at a month ago,” he said.
Gardner said the length of time he has felt discomfort is not unusual. “Sometimes it takes a bone bruise quite a while to heal,” he said. “There’s not a whole lot you can do to speed up that process.”
Wrist trouble is nothing new for Gardner, 32. He twice was hit in the right wrist by pitches in the first week last season. He had surgery on that wrist after the 2010 season.
Hitting coach Alan Cockrell, the assistant hitting coach in 2015, said last November that Gardner’s wrist pain never really dissipated last season, contributing to a second half of struggles. Gardner earned his first All-Star bid thanks to a .302/.377/.484 slash line, but he nosedived in the last 2 1⁄2 months. His slash line in that span was .206/.300/.292, including .191/.267/.287 in the final 26 games of the regular season.
“I know that bothered him off and on the entire year,” Cockrell said.
Gardner, who rarely cops to injuries, shrugged when the statement was repeated to him.
“Sometimes when you’re 100 percent healthy and you feel great, you still don’t play well,” he said. “It’s hard to say how much my wrist affected the way I was playing. I know the last couple months, I didn’t swing the bat real well. It definitely left a bad taste in my mouth. So I’m excited to be feeling good again and ready to get out there.”
Which, he hopes, will be in the near future.
“I wish I was on the same page as everybody else,” Gardner said. “I wish I got to hit outside today, but I will soon enough. I’m sure it will be in the next week or so.”