Joe Girardi made what had been an expected announcement this morning – that Curtis Granderson would start in center and Brett Gardner in left.
What wasn’t expected was the second piece of news, which was that the results of Francisco Cervelli’s MRI showed the catcher had a Grade 1 strain in his left hamstring.
Grade 1 is the mildest form of a hamstring injury but as a precaution Girardi said the catcher will not play the rest of spring, which ends with Saturday’s Futures Game, but will take batting practice and catch in the bullpen. He does not anticipate a trip to the disabled list.
“We’ll evaluate him day to day,” Girardi said. “Right now, if I was to guess, he is not a DL guy. But we’re not going to play him the rest of spring training.”
Veteran Mike Rivera is currently the third catcher on the roster.
Before Girardi talked to the media, Cervelli said he expected to travel to Boston and be available for the opener if need be.
“I want to be there, I think I will be there,” Cervelli said. “I think nothing’s hurt.”
As for Granderson, that announcement had been anticipated for some time as Granderson didn’t play a game in left the first two weeks of the spring and played a handful of games there altogether.
“They both did a very nice job in both spots,” Girardi said. “Grandy’s played a lot of centerfield in his career and so has Gardy but we just decided that we were going to go with Grandy in center. Try not to move him around and put him in one spot.”
Girardi said Granderson’s established record as a centerfield played a role.
“We look at Curtis as an everyday player and you want to have consistency for that guy,” Girardi said. “I still believe that Gardy has a chance to be an everyday player and is going to hit but it was just a decision we made. I don’t necessarily think there was a wrong decision, but just after talking about it we just decided we’re going to put Grandy in center where he’s played the five six or years and let him do his thing.”
Gardner’s role is a little less clear.
Girardi said with Marcus’ Thames track record against lefties makes it possible that Gardner could find himself in a platoon situation. The Yankees asked Gardner to work on his bunting this offseason and he clearly did, bunting several times for hits this spring, but overall this preseason he hasn’t been impressive at the plate, hitting just .200 with a .281 on base percentage.
“Those are decisions that we have to make,” Girardi of who would play against lefties. “I still think Gardy is an everyday player and has the potential to be an everyday player but Marcus Thames is a guy who’s had a lot of success against lefthanders as well so those are decisions we have to make in the next few days.”