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Brett Gardner-Jacoby Ellsbury flip might not be blip on Yankees’ radar

Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees

Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees celebrates his two-run home run with teammate Jacoby Ellsbury #22 against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Chase Field on May 18, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Getty Images/ Norm Hall

CLEVELAND — Flipping Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury in the lineup isn’t permanent right now, but it could be.

“Just trying to see if our offense becomes more consistent,” Joe Girardi said before Friday night’s game, in which Gardner hit leadoff and Ellsbury hit second. Gardner went 1-for-3 and Ellsbury was 0-for-4 in the Yankees’ 10-2 loss to the Indians.

Entering Friday night, Gardner had started 14 games in the leadoff spot this season, but none when he was in the lineup with Ellsbury, who had started 70 games as the leadoff hitter.

“These guys have done a pretty good job,” Girardi said. “Their numbers are similar in everything that you look at.”

Gardner brought a .257/.354/.349 slash line into Friday night compared to .282/.348/.396 for Ellsbury.

“I’m going to run it through the weekend, just to take a look at it,” Girardi said. “It’s something I thought about a couple weeks ago, thought about in spring training, and we just kind of kept it the same. Their skill set is not a lot different.”

Girardi said he did not consider something more drastic, such as moving up Didi Gregorius (who had two hits to improve his slash line to .300/.327/.462). Gregorius has mostly batted in the seventh and eighth positions in the order this season. “He’s been successful where he’s at,” Girardi said. “So I don’t really want to change that.”

As for the players, not surprisingly, they expressed indifference. “I told them I was perfectly fine with it,” Gardner said. “Whether I was hitting one, two, nine or four, or whatever, I’m not going to change anything what I’m trying to do.”

Mitchell throwing

Bryan Mitchell, the Yankees’ most impressive pitcher in spring training before suffering a foot injury, has been throwing bullpen sessions, and Girardi didn’t discount a possible return by season’s end. “I’m not counting on it,” he said, “but he is throwing bullpens. I think it’s possible.”

Refsnyder still in

Rob Refsnyder, who went 1-for-1 with a walk and an RBI Thursday night and who had a .297/.365/.405 slash line in 28 games, again started in rightfield instead of the struggling Aaron Hicks. “Obviously, the better he plays, the more he’s going to play,” Girardi said of Refsnyder, who went 0-for-3. “I want him to stay productive and he’ll continue to get them [at-bats].”


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