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Girardi considers Gardner leading off

Infielder Brett Gardner #11 of the New York

Infielder Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees breaks a bat and singles against the Tampa Bay Rays. (July 20, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Joe Girardi is considering a return to the lineup he used the first couple of weeks of the season.

Meaning Brett Gardner leading off — at least against righthanders.

“It’s something I’ll definitely consider,” Girardi said before last night’s game.

Girardi did not say this was a precursor to a more significant drop in the lineup for Derek Jeter, who was 5-for-26 — entering last night — since his 5-for-5 performance July 9, when he got his 3000th career hit. Jeter singled, stole second and scored on Curtis Granderson’s homer in the first inning last night against the Rays.

The night before Jeter’s 3,000th hit, Girardi had Gardner leading off against the Rays with Jeter hitting second and Granderson third, but the game was rained out.

If Gardner continues swinging a hot bat — he entered last night 13-for-22 on this trip — and Jeter is doing otherwise, it gets really interesting when Alex Rodriguez returns from the disabled list as either Gardner or Jeter would have to be dropped to the bottom part of the order against righties.

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