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Curtis Granderson to miss 10 weeks with fractured right forearm

Curtis Granderson reacts after being hit with a

Curtis Granderson reacts after being hit with a pitch that broke his right forearm in the top of the first inning of a spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Steinbrenner Field. (Feb. 24, 2013) Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. -- The good news for the Yankees, and there was just a morsel of it, is that Curtis Granderson should return by early May.

But getting through April could be quite a slog for a lineup that lacked punch even with Granderson available.

A stray fastball from Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ shook the Yankees' universe early Sunday afternoon. It broke Granderson's right forearm, an injury that will cost the outfielder 10 weeks, or until the first week of May.

"It could be worse," said Granderson, who hit a team-best 43 homers last season after hitting 41 in 2011. "But now we rest, get it back and get ready to play whenever that day comes."

Sunday was Day 1 of what general manager Brian Cashman previously called the "experiment" of having Granderson play leftfield and Brett Gardner play center.

"That experiment's over," Cashman said late Sunday afternoon, verbalizing the obvious.

Joe Girardi said that more than likely, Gardner will stay in center and Ichiro Suzuki -- who started 26 games in leftfield, 24 games in rightfield and five games in centerfield last season after being obtained by the Yankees -- will stay in right.

So quickly the discussion turned to the options for the Yankees, and just as quickly the answer came back: not very good.

"It's too early to say," Cashman said. "Bottom line is we have what we have in camp. We'll continue to evaluate it. We're not even sure what we have just yet in camp, to be honest."

Righthanded-hitting veterans Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera, both non-roster invitees competing for the fourth outfield spot, are far better suited to a platoon situation than everyday work.

The Yankees have stockpiled some impressive young outfielders in their system -- Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin and Zoilo Almonte head the list -- but they are in the lower minor leagues. Almonte starred in Saturday's exhibition opener against the Braves, starting in rightfield, throwing out a runner at third and hitting an opposite-field homer to left.

"We have future everyday- rightfielder scouting grades on him," Cashman said of Almonte before Sunday's game. "I think you're going to see a lot of young kids open some eyes this spring."

Another of those "young kids" is Melky Mesa, a strong defender who got a bit of time last season with the Yankees, though his bat isn't yet considered major league-ready.

Ronnier Mustelier has impressed scouts with his bat, but at a stumpy 5-10, 210 pounds, he looks like a man without a position. Cashman all but ruled out putting Eduardo Nuñez in left, a position he played a bit of last season.

"We have plenty of time to figure out what we're going to do," Girardi said. "Grandy's not a bat that you say is easy to replace, but we're going to have to find a way."

There's always the possibility of looking elsewhere, but those possibilities aren't likely to develop this early in spring training.

"The first month , there will be a vacancy we need to fill. Is that internal, external?" Cashman said. "I couldn't even tell you. It's so early. There's guys all over competing for spots in the big leagues in other camps as well, so our pro scouts will continue to do what they always do. They'll evaluate what's available externally and we'll evaluate what we have internally and who knows? I can't tell you anything. I can't tell you if we'll wind up doing anything down the line or not."

Though clearly stunned by the day's news, Cashman wasn't in woe-is-me mode.

"It's baseball," he said. "If you're going to have injuries, you'd rather have them this time of year than when you're missing games that count. Obviously, if Curtis is going to miss almost two months, at least one of the two don't count."

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